The ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’: What Remains in and for International Law?
16 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2017 Last revised: 22 Jun 2017
Date Written: March 27, 2017
This paper asks whether the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 in Russia has left traces in the current international legal order. Unrelated to the revolutionary ideas or even specifically reacting against them, the international regimes of refugee protection, international labour law, and investment protection were built up and last. In contrast, the concept of a separate system of socialist international law seems not to have survived the breakdown of the socialist block in 1989. However, the mutual interaction between the domestic legal and political systems and the international legal rules governing the states, as postulated by socialist international law, is increasingly acknowledged. The paper argues that practitioners and scholars of international law need to make productive use of the different ideational backgrounds of the participants in the international jurisgenerative processes but should be wary of creating different rules for similarly situated players. The paper then examines the superficial appeal of socialist ideas for tackling the current problems of globalisation, notably extreme social inequality within and across states. It concludes that, due to its reductionist concepts, the Russian revolution and socialist international law mainly provides a negative blueprint for the further evolution of international law. However, it is a reminder of the imperative for addressing global social injustice which has become ever more pressing in times of unfettered globalisation.
Keywords: revolution, socialist international law, liberal international law, domestic law as fact, globalisation, inequality, transnational corporations, global justice
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