Theory of International Law

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Anarchy and Anachronism: An Existential Challenge for International Law

The war in Ukraine has opened our eyes to two things that have long been there to be seen.  The post-1945 world order has collapsed into a new world disorder. The utopian dream of inevitable social progress across the human world has revealed itself as an illusion. History has ended, not in improbable optimism but in a sense of hopeless disorder.  The social function of international law is to create the conditions for peace, order, and good government in the human world. International law now faces a challenge far greater than those that it faced on three previous occasions when world order was suddenly unsettled.   At the end of the fifteenth century, it had to respond to the recognition of an extra-European world of countless different cultures and social forms, some of them ancient, in America and Africa and Asia. In the sixteenth century, it had to respond to the end of integrated Christendom in Europe, leading to wars of religion and the terrible Thirty Years War.  In the nineteenth century,…

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Piercing the State’s Corporate Veil: Using Private Actors to Enforce International Norms

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a tragedy of statehood: a state no longer recognises its neighbour’s right to exist. Yet, the wider resistance to this invasion has highlighted the role of private individuals and corporations in enforcing fundamental international law norms. The involvement of the private sector has helped to globalise the conflict. Individuals and companies have come…

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Chasing Global Legal Particles: Some Guesswork about the Nature of Meta’s Oversight Board

There is a contrast between the image of global law as something grand and the difficulty of spotting it, as if it were made of particles whose existence remains conjectural. Not a big surprise, one may say, given that there is no rule of recognition for global law. This post nevertheless tries to detect some such particles using…

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David Lefkowitz’s response to EJILTalk! commentators

I am extremely grateful to Andreas Follesdal and Steven Ratner for organizing this symposium, to the European Journal of International Law for hosting it on its blog, and to Alejandro Chehtman, Adil Haque, Carmen Pavel, and Nicole Roughan for their generous praise of my book, and the thoughtful challenges they press against various arguments contained therein.  I wrote…

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Philosophy and the Laws of Armed Conflict

David Lefkowitz’s Philosophy and International Law is an ambitious, thought-provoking, and didactic examination of many key jurisprudential, political, and ethical issues at the core of the international legal system. Its title captures well not only the overall theme of the book (you would have guessed that much), but also its emphasis: it is a philosophical inquiry about international…

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