Disaggregating U.S. Interests in International Law

25 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2004

See all articles by Peter J. Spiro

Peter J. Spiro

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law


This essay adapts the tools of International Relations theory to the question of how international law might be incorporated into U.S. law, the putative global dominance of the United States notwithstanding. IR theory is not typically deployed to explain internal state dynamics salient to the initial incorporation of international law, focusing more on domestic politics as an independent variable. Nor has IR theory been prominently deployed to explain or to project the relationship of the United States to international law. This essay describes how discrete elements of the United States, including private actors and disaggregated governmental components beyond the traditional foreign policy apparatus, may be developing an institutional interest in the acceptance of international regimes. This essay thus suggests a future in which international law is absorbed into U.S. law not because it is good - although it may well be that, too - but because rational institutional action will pull in that direction. This incorporation will occur in American constitutional law as in other areas, as international law ramifies through judicial and political channels. The essay attempts to marry Constructivist foregrounding of transnational actors with Liberal IR premises of institutional self-interest and domestic power-politics, sketching a new model of international relations under the moniker of liberal transnationalism.

Keywords: international relations theory, international law, constructivism, realism

Suggested Citation

Spiro, Peter J., Disaggregating U.S. Interests in International Law. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=611101

Peter J. Spiro (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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