Boyakasha, Fist to Fist: Respect and the Philosphical Link with Reciprocity in International Law and Human Rights

18 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2006 Last revised: 4 Apr 2013

See all articles by Donald J. Kochan

Donald J. Kochan

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University


From Grotius to Hobbes to Locke to an unconventional modern pop-culture manifestation in Ali G, the concept of respect has always been understood as important in human interaction and human agreements. The concept of mutual understanding and obligation pervades human interaction, and, for purposes of this Article, international relations. Almost all basic principles in English, United States, and other country's laws that value human and individual rights have based, over time, the development of their laws on the philosophical principle of respect. So much of common and statutory law is designed to enforce respect for others. The principle question in this Article involves the idea of respect between nations in international reciprocity. Most importantly, it examines who should have the opportunity to enforce potential disrespectful actions in issues of international law and human rights. Due to a trend within the United States where litigation opportunities have allowed private individuals to attempt to enforce within the judiciary the obligations of international law for allegedly disrespectful actions, the question becomes whether it is wise to allow nations due respect to allow their citizens to enforce actions contrary to those international obligations. If, indeed, international agreements are between nation-states - reciprocity requires that the decisions to respect them should be made by the contracting parties and not third parties. Thus, third party civil litigation based on international agreements (or a nation's allowance of them) is itself disrespectful.

Keywords: International Law, Respect, Reciprocity, Alien Tort Statute, Alien Tort Claims Act, Customary International Law, Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, Law and Economics, International Relations, Law of Nations, Article III, Human Rights, Torts, Corporate Liability, Public Choice

JEL Classification: F00, H00, H10, H11, H19, K00, K10, K32, K33, N50

Suggested Citation

Kochan, Donald J., Boyakasha, Fist to Fist: Respect and the Philosphical Link with Reciprocity in International Law and Human Rights. George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 38, 2006, Chapman University Law Research Paper No. 08-03, Available at SSRN:

Donald J. Kochan (Contact Author)

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University ( email )

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United States

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