The Rise and Decline of the International Rule of Law and the Job of Scholars
Heike Krieger/Georg Nolte/Andreas Zimmermann (eds), The International Rule of Law: Rise or Decline? (c) Anne Peters, Forthcoming
14 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 30, 2017
International law feeds on preconditions which it cannot guarantee itself. International scholarship, too, must come to grips with pre-conditions and existing parameters over which it has no control itself. But such scholarship must not ‘succumb’ to these factual and ideational realities by adapting its methods and findings to any given political, social, and economic climate. It is the job of international legal scholars to produce ideas in a spirit of realist utopianism (John Rawls). Depending on the existing parameters, these ideas are apt to shape attitudes and actions, or not. Such scholarship also needs to distance itself from its object of study in order not to lose its capacity to criticise the law and the practice. How far exactly scholarly writing should transcend or keep aloof from the prevailing political climate and from concerns of feasibility depends on the research questions under discussion and is a matter of judgment.
The style of scholarship suggested here is illustrated by the work of three eminent scholars whose careers continued through different political eras more or less favourable to the international rule of law: Hersch Lauterpacht, Antonio Cassese, and Josef Kunz.
Keywords: International Law, Utopia, Idealism, Realism, Inter-War Period, First World War, Second World War
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