International Law and International Norms
- Definition: a set of norms, rules, and practices created by states and other actors to
facilitate diverse social goals, from order and coexistence to justice and human
development. Pursuit of order.
- International Institutions can be created with out international organizational structure
- 3 levels of institutions such as the principal of sovereignty
- Constitutional institutions: norms of sovereignty; hold that within the state power
and authority re centralized and hierarchical, and outside the state no higher
- Fundamental Institutions: represent basic norms and practices that sovereign
states employ to facilitate coexistence and cooperation under conditions of
international anarchy; In the modern international system the fundamental
institutional practices of contractual international law and multilateralism have
been most important.
- Issue-specific institutions or ‘regimes’: sets of rules and norms and decisions making
procedures to define what legitimate action is in certain situations ie: the Nuclear
- To facilitate cooperation states create the above international institutions
The treaty of Westphalia 1684:
- End of the 30year war; this treaty granted monarch’s rights to maintain
standard armies, build fortifications, and levy taxes.
The Peace Treaty of Versailles 1919:
- formally ended the First World War; established the league of nations
(which later failed but paved the way for the UN), created ‘Manditories’
system under which ‘advanced nations’ were given tutelage over colonial
The Charter of the UN 1945:
- The body that regulates and governs the rights and obligations of
sovereign states. This is the Key document that limits the use of force to
instances of self-defense and collective peace enforcement.
- New norms and rules are constantly evolving.
- NORMS ARE A SPECIAL CATEGORY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
- The practice of multilateralism is the most distinctive form of
international legislation making
- Liberalism has begun to transform the internal constitutions of the
- Consent is treated as the primary sources of international legal
- Name and shame
When determining when a Norm constitutes customary law you require two things:
- the recognition by states that they are observing the norm because it
- the idea that consent is the principal source of international legal
obligation is philosophically highly problematic
-International law is considered the mutual will of nations
- The most distinctive characteristic of the modern institution of international law are its
multilateral form of legislation, its consent-based form of legal obligation, its language and
practice of justification and its discourse of institutional autonomy.
- In todays system individuals are starting to be held accountable for mass human rights
violations (authoritarian leaders)
-International law is growing more concerned with global regulations of environmental
laws and trade laws with respects to the communal areas and freeriding.
3 points to note:
- States are the key principals and agents of international law (Classic
- International law is concerned with the regulation of inter-state relations
- The international law is / was confined to the question of order, however
international humanitarian laws are developing.
- The laws of war have been an evolving practice
- two acceptable uses of force described by the UN are :
- peace enforcement via the UN security council
3 areas of constrains in war times:
- Types of weapons used (land mines treaty of Ottawa)
- Treatment of military combatants
- Treatment of non-combatant individuals
Realism approach to International Law: only important when it serves the interest of
Neo-Liberals: explains how self-interested states come to construct dense networks of
Constructivist: built upon normative structures that condition non-state agencies. Also
emphasize the way in which law constitutes actor’s identities, interests, and strategies.
New Liberals: emphasize domestic origins of the state preferences. Prioritize internatianl
Critical Legal Studies: concentrates on the way in which the inherent liberalism of
international law seriously curtails its radical potential.
International Norm Dynamics and Political Change
Finnemore and Sikkink, reading
(I found this great summary online that I feel is very accurate enjoy)
THREE MAIN POINTS:
• Ideational concerns have been a traditional concern of political science, though they were
largely absent during the behavioral revolution and the subsequent infatuation with
microeconomics. Now, they have been brought back in with an increased scientific rigor
(due to insights from behavioral and microeconomic research).
• The central difficulty of ideational theories is how to explain change (not stability). The
authors outline a "life cycle" of norms.
• "The processes of social construction and strategic bargaining are deeply intertwined." (911)
IDEATIONAL CONCERNS AS A TRADITIONAL CONCERN
• This section is mostly just an argument that norms matter. Along the way, they commit a class
constructivist mistake: gross tautology. "Slaveholders and many nonslaveholders
believed that slavery was appropriate behavior; without that belief, the institution of
slavery would not have been possible." [So in other words, slavery is evidence of a norm
that led to slavery.]
THE LIFE CYCLE OF A NORM (see table on pg 898):
1. "Norm emergence." Norm entrepreneurs arise (randomly) with a conviction that something
must be changed. These norms use existing organizations and norms as a platform from
which to proselytize (e.g. UN declarations), framing their issue to reach a broader
audience. In Stage 1, then, states adopt norms for domestic political reasons. If enough
states adopt the new norm, a "tipping point" is reached, and we move to stage 2.
2. "Norm cascade." In stage 2, states adopt norms in response to international pressure--even if
there is no domestic coalition pressing for adoption of the norm. They do this to enhance
domestic legitimacy [comment: seems to imply domestic demand], conformity [b/c
leaders don't want to stick out], and esteem needs [because being shamed as non-
conformists by the int'l community makes them feel bad]. We need more psychological
research to consider how this works [apparently].
3. "Norm internalization." Over time, we internalize these norms. Professionals press for
codification and universal adherance. Eventually, conformity becomes so natural that we
cease to even notice the presence of a norm.
• WHICH NORMS (AND WHEN) ARE LIKELY TO REACH THE TIPPING POINT?
1. "Legitimacy": affects timing. States may adopt norms if their domestic legitimacy wavers. [I
like Moravcsik's argument better: if your power wavers, you adopt norms that perpetuate
2. "Prominence": norms held by prominent states (e.g. powerful states, war victors) are likely to
be adopted (e.g. liberalism, capitalism post cold-war).
3. "Intrinsic qualities": some intrinsic qualities of a norm may make it more likely to be adopted
(but the authors advise caution on this line of argument). Essentially, we're all slowly
becoming hippies. We value universalism; individualism; voluntaristic authority; rational
progress; and world citizenship. Keck and Sikkink make an argument that norms about
Definition: a set of norms, rules, and practices created by states and other actors to facilitate diverse social goals, from order and coexistence to justice and human development. International institutions can be created with out international organizational structure. 3 levels of institutions such as the principal of sovereignty. Constitutional institutions: norms of sovereignty; hold that within the state power and authority re centralized and hierarchical, and outside the state no higher authority exists. Issue-specific institutions or regimes": sets of rules and norms and decisions making procedures to define what legitimate action is in certain situations ie: the nuclear. To facilitate cooperation states create the above international institutions. End of the 30year war; this treaty granted monarch"s rights to maintain standard armies, build fortifications, and levy taxes. Formally ended the first world war; established the league of nations (which later failed but paved the way for the un), created manditories" system under which advanced nations" were given tutelage over colonial peoples.