An American Vision for Global Justice: Taking the Rule of (International) Law Seriously

17 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2005 Last revised: 11 Sep 2020

See all articles by Leila N. Sadat

Leila N. Sadat

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law


This article examines current American attitudes about international law and international legal regimes. The positive and negative effects of globalization combined with the status of the United States as the world's only superpower have led to an increased global awareness of the stature of the United States in relation to the rest of the world. Americans are now constantly reminded of the importance of United States' participation in the global arena and how such participation directly affects their own interests. Paradoxically, American society has been relatively slow to think about globalization in legal terms. Within the last fifty years, international law and adjudication have undergone a radical transformation in both form and function, indicated by both the quantity and the quality of its law-making and practice. Yet, while international law and lawmaking have risen to unprecedented prominence outside U.S. borders, the United States has increasingly turned its back on the legitimizing and stabilizing role that international law may play in the global forum. This article definitively rejects persistent, outmoded notions questioning the legitimacy of international law and argues that the United States needs to take its commitment to the rule of law to the global stage, thereby playing to American strengths, enhancing American legitimacy and moral authority, and perpetuating the leadership role that the United States has historically exercised in the conduct of international affairs. Finally, this article debunks the notion of absolute sovereignty in the face of the ever-increasing benefits and deficits associated with globalization and global awareness. Recognizing that global problems require global solutions and that old structures tied to the decentralized Westphalian system are disintegrating, this article espouses an embracing of new systems, possibly hierarchal and centralized, to take their place.

Keywords: Globalization, International Affairs, International Criminal Conduct (ICC), International Criminal Law, International Law, International Legal Regimes, Sovereignty, U.S. Foreign Policy

Suggested Citation

Sadat, Leila N., An American Vision for Global Justice: Taking the Rule of (International) Law Seriously. Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 05-06-02, Available at SSRN:

Leila N. Sadat (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-6411 (Phone)
314-935-5356 (Fax)

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