The Politics of International Law

Research handbook on the politics of international law, Wayne Sandholtz; Christopher A Whytock, Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar Publishing, [2017]; ISBN: 9781783473984

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-18

26 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2018

See all articles by Wayne Sandholtz

Wayne Sandholtz

University of Southern California - School of International Relations; University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Christopher A. Whytock

University of California, Irvine, School of Law

Date Written: March 15, 2018

Abstract

In this chapter, we develop a new framework for analyzing the politics of international law. Research based on the traditional paradigms of international relations — realism, institutionalism, liberalism and constructivism — tends to generalize about the relationship between politics and international law. In contrast, our premise is that there are diverse sites of interaction between law and politics, and that the nature, causes and effects of these interactions, and the relative influences of law and politics on outcomes, vary across these different sites. This diversity lends itself more to comparative analysis than to general theorizing.

We therefore argue for a comparative approach to the politics of international law. Our dimensions of comparative analysis are twofold: stages of governance and governance systems. The stages of governance include rulemaking, interpretation, decisionmaking, implementation, and rule change. Governance systems are demarcated by their subject matter (e.g. international peace and security, intellectual property, or trade), their scope (e.g. global, regional, or national), or both. Our central claim is that interactions between law and politics vary in important ways both (1) across different stages of governance within particular governance systems and (2) across different governance systems.

Our approach has broader implications for understanding international law. First, it transcends the traditional — and in our view misleading — categorical distinction between the role of law in domestic and international politics. Second, it allows for a more nuanced and contingent understanding of the relationship between law and politics than debates about the primacy of politics (or law) typically produce. Third, our approach favors mid-range theorizing focused on the foundations of the relationship between law and politics in specific contexts.

This chapter is the introduction to the Research Handbook on the Politics of International Law, published by Edward Elgar. The other chapters apply the introductory chapter’s analytical framework in contexts including financial and environmental regulation, international trade, intellectual property, human rights, Internet governance, and cyber conflict.

Keywords: International Law, International Relations, International Politics, World Politics, Political Science, Governance, Global Governance, Law and Politics, International Law and International Relations, Comparative Analysis, Law and World Politics

Suggested Citation

Sandholtz, Wayne and Whytock, Christopher A., The Politics of International Law (March 15, 2018). Research handbook on the politics of international law, Wayne Sandholtz; Christopher A Whytock, Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar Publishing, [2017]; ISBN: 9781783473984; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2018-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3141357

Wayne Sandholtz

University of Southern California - School of International Relations ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Christopher A. Whytock (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine, School of Law ( email )

401 East Peltason Drive, Suite 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-8000
United States
(949) 824-0496 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uci.edu

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