The Quest for World Order and Human Dignity in the Twenty-first Century

Constitutive Process and Individual Commitment


International law’s archipelago is composed of legal “islands”, which are highly organized, and “offshore” zones, manifesting a much lower degree of legal organization. Each requires a different mode of decisionmaking, each further complicated by the stress of radical change. This General Course is concerned, first, with understanding and assessing the aggregate performance of the world constitutive process, in present and projected constructs; second, with providing the intellectual tools that can enable those involved in making decisions to be more effective, whether they are operating in islands or offshore; and, third, with inquiring into ways the international legal system might be improved. Reisman identifies the individual as the ultimate actor in international law and explores the dilemmas of meaningful individual commitment to a world order of human dignity amidst interlocking communities and overlapping loyalties.

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W. Michael Reisman is the McDougal Professor of International Law at the Yale Law School and also Honorary Professor in the City University of Hong Kong. He is a member of the Institut de droit international, of the Board of Directors of the Foreign Policy Association and of the Advisory Committee on International Law of the US Department of State. He served formerly as President of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and Editor-in-Chief of
the American Journal of International Law.
"The Quest for World Order is an excellent introduction to international legal theory, offering a comprehensive understanding of the building blocks of the international legal system and the fundamental tensions and dialectics informing its lawmaking and law-applying processes."
-Yuval Shany, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"Given the breadth, sophistication, and idiosyncrasy, of this collection of lectures it should be treated as a general...analysis of public international law and will be attractive to scholars of the theory of international law."
-Stephen Riley, Utrecht University
chapter I. Breaking out of alice’s looking-glass: an introduction
chapter II. what is international law attached to ?
chapter III. Some propositions and conditioning factors
chapter IV. the world constitutive process and its decision functions
chapter V. the international lawmaking function
chapter VI. two modes of principled decision-making
chapter VII. the international law-applying function
chapter VIII. Participation arrangements for States: the transformation of self-determination and the emergence of the individual
chapter IX. Sovereignty and human rights: changing the internal arrangements of States by external means
chapter X. the actors theory has ignored
chapter XI. Human rights and individualism: regulating national control and providing international protection.
chapter XII. contingencies for the use of force : myth system and operational code
chapter XIII. the use and abuse of force : jus in bello
chapter XIV. the penumbra of professionalism : the citizenship role of the international lawyer
chapter XV. International law as a profession : dilemmas of identity and commitment.
About the author; Biographical note; Principal publications.
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