International law misunderstands the way the world works and provides unstable legal bedrock for many international institutions, says Weekly Standard contributor Thomas Meaney.
The dominant academic theory of international law holds that states comply with the law because it is legally binding and morally right; even if it is not in their interest, states will still operate under the law out of respect for its universal legitimacy, says Meaney. However, states only comply with international law when it best serves their interests. When the balance tips in favour of self-interest, a state will make an exception in a heartbeat.
So, why do countries use international law if it holds so little weight? Because international talk is cheap, says Meaney:
Publish date: 12 October 2005
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.