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
European powers. - 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 bodily harm against vulnerable groups and legal equality of opportunity will be more
4."Adjacency": If the norm is like an existing norm, or somehow derivable from it.
5."World time": A depression or shock can lead states to look for new norms; the end of a war
can lead states to adopt the victor's norms.
CONSTRUCTIVISTS AND RATIONAL CHOICE: FOUR DEBATES
• Materialism, instrumental utility maximization vs "logic of appropriateness" [the action itself
is good], choice [do we choose to follow a norm, or is it simply "internalized"?], and
persuasion [there aren't really any good theories about how we get persuaded].
• It's not a debate between rational choice and constructivism, as many constructivist theories
define only preferences but outline highly rational means of achieving them.
• "The debates also do not divide norms researchers into two tidy camps. Researchers may
marry ideational ontologies with rational choice; they may examine reasoned choice
among conflicting "appropriate" behaviors; they may examine highly instrumental and
strategic interactions designed to construct new standards of appropriateness, as most
studies of norm entrepreneurs do; and they may generally find themselves cross-cut in
ways that are refreshing and, we hope, stimulate new kinds of conversations."
• The authors leave themselves wide open to a criticism similar to Moravcsik's (2000): when
they compare constructivism and "rational choice," they focus on third-image rational
choice. But what of second-image rationality? I can accept that stage 1 is driven by
domestic political pressure--but why aren't the later stages also driven by domestic
pressure? The same domestic coalition that convinced their state to adopt a new norm in
stage 1, can now support only those politicians who will pressure other states to adopt
similar norms (stage 2). Similarly, citizens within norm-accepting states will press for
codification of the new norms (new laws, new trade policies and practices), which leads
both to internalization of the norm and further diffusion of it (stage 3).
• In my view, Keck and Sikkink make progress; their "boomerang effect" shows how this
article's stages 1, 2, and 3 might all be driven by similar domestic political factors: if
norm entrepreneurs succeed in one state but struggle in another, the strugglers network
with the succeeders (in a TAN) to effect pressure on the strugglers' state. My point: I
don't see why a rational theory of state policy (domestic and foreign) can't explain both
why a state adopts a new norm and why it pressures others to do the same. Although
norm entrepreneurs may adopt their cause for non-rational reasons, a rational theory of
political behavior can explain perfectly well how they proceed.
The United Nations
- The UN was set up to correct the problems of the League of nations
- Chapter 7 (VII) : deals with ‘Action with respect to ‘Threats to the Peace,
Breaches of Peace, and Acts of Aggression’ under this chapter embargos or
economic sanctions are possible of many other things.
- Article 99: authorizes the secretary general (Ben Ki Moon) to ‘bring to the
attention of the security council any matters which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security’.
- Within the security council there are 5 permanent members that retain veto
power. (USA, Britain, China, Soviet Union (Russia), France)
- On rare occasions the security council has authorized member states to use all
necessary means, to see that decisions are carried out.
- General Assembly two thirds vote is necessary for key issues such as
international peace and security, administration of new members and the UN
- ECOSOC is responsible for overseeing the activities of a large number of
other institutions known as the ‘UN system’. Ie(World Health Organization,
International Labour Organization etc…)
- An agenda for peace 1992: to maintain security in a post war context.
Preventative diplomacy, Peacemaking, Peace Keeping, and Post-conflict
peace building. (look them up if you need more info but its straight forward)
- Attention post 1992 was disputes within nations are now seen as having the
ability to effect the international system and thus are more important then
- Also there is more attention now placed on individual rights as per the United
Nations Agreement on Human Rights Doctrine
A Bretton Woods Moment
- main question : will there be another Bretton woods system created in the
wake of the 07-08 financial crisis??
- For the original Bretton woods agreement there were many other political
factors at play as well as post war rebuilding still occurring, debt recovery
from other financial collapse of the 30’s among other things
- The misconception is that Bretton woods agreement was not an overnight
decision but a long process that was discussed over many years even before
the economic system collapse of the 30’s and previous to the end of the
Second World War.
- 4 Phases that are going to be required to replicate an agreement similar to
Bretton woods today would be: a legitimacy crisis, an interregnum, a
constitutive phase and an implementation phase
- Although governments remained committed to a gold (exchange) standard and
current account convertibility, they were permitted to adjust exchange rates
and control all capital movements. The Bretton Woods delegates also created
two new public intergovernmental institutions—the Inter- national Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction later named the
- Bretton Woods system broke down with the US closing of the gold window in
1971 and the generalized move to floating exchange rates in 1973. In the
exchange rate realm, for example, a kind of ‘non-system’ emerged that has
persisted to this day, todays system is a neo-liberal system
- A more decentralized international financial system may be more compatible
with the political realities of the post-crisis world, such as the diffusion of power, the lack of an international expert consensus on a grand new vision,
and the absence of a strategic alliance among the G20 countries.
• Transnational Actors [Chapter 20]
• - The rising importance of NGOs, TNCs, trade unions, international criminal
groups and other non-legitimate groups as a threat to the sovereignty of the state
o Venue-shopping: companies relocate to where domestic legislation is
o Triangulation: indirect trade pathways crossing through a number of
borders; this includes the activities of TNCs as well as criminal organizations
o Extraterritoriality: TNCs with headquarters in one state and regional
branches in other states face a fundamental problem of legality - do they
obey the domestic laws or the laws of the state to which the HQ is located?
- Increased social and environmental audits are being conducted to check
TNCs for corporate responsibility
- Interdependence is mandatory for full participation in the global economy;
control over financial flows and trade, however, has partially moved away from the
state and into the realms of corporations and banking institutions
o Consultative status at the UN/ECOSOC
o Progressive social movements and human rights
o Advocacy networks (Keck and Sikkink)
- Regulation of markets is becoming more of a global responsibility, as states
are domestically deregulating, and globalization is integrating economies
- TNCs lobby governments to uphold corporate interests, pressure political
decision-making by threatening venue-shopping/unemployment (regulatory
- Intra-state violence: most common with nationalistic groups reject the
legitimacy of a government (called guerillas, terrorists, or freedom fighters
depending on context)
- Failed states and transnational criminals: with the use of techniques such as
triangulation, money laundering, and regulatory arbitrage, criminal groups may
move from state to state, threatening the integrity of the international banking and
- International Criminal Court as an example of an international institution
created after pressure from transnational actors (NGOs)
- Impact of technology
o Communications networks
o Online banking and financial transfers
o Access to information (by everyone - law enforcement, criminal
o Harmonization of standards and adaptation to change - Information, symbolic, leverage, and accountability politics (Keck and
o Styles of advocacy and reporting that interact with the audience using
various techniques: scientific “fact”, emotion, naming and shaming,
accountability to a public commitment
Environmental Issues [Chapter 21]
- Environmental issues as a case study of a global issue requiring international
action for a sustainable solution
- Free-riding and the tragedy of the commons
o Inherent conflict between individual and collective interest and
rationality in common property
o Solution: privatize or nationalize common areas
Is this possible? Think of the seas, air, outer space
- Norm life-cycle can be applied here
o Norm entrepreneurs
o - Tipping point
o Norm cascade
- Industrial revolution and new industrialization for 3 World states
o Friction between the North and the South, restrictive environmental
norms limit opportunities
o Structural divide between the developed states and the developing
- The environment as an issue of international security (inter- and intra-state)
o Food and resource scarcity, desertification
o Water quality
o Displaced persons
o Natural disasters
o Changes in living conditions and energy use
It has become a subject of “high politics”
- States and international cooperation are the only mechanisms for providing
necessary global governance
- Connection between the environment and development
o Sustainable development: development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the abilities of future generations to meet
their own needs
o Capacity building: providing the funds and technical training to allo