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Legitimacy and Legality in International Law


  • Page extent: 436 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.81 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 341
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: KZ1251 .B78 2010
  • LC Subject headings:
    • International law--Social aspects
    • International law--Psychological aspects
    • Obedience (Law)
    • Rule of law
    • Effectiveness and validity of law

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521880657)

It has never been more important to understand how international law enables and constrains international politics. By drawing together the legal theory of Lon Fuller and the insights of constructivist international relations scholars, this book articulates a pragmatic view of how international obligation is created and maintained. First, legal norms can only arise in the context of social norms based on shared understandings. Second, internal features of law, or 'criteria of legality', are crucial to law's ability to promote adherence, to inspire 'fidelity'. Third, legal norms are built, maintained or destroyed through a continuing practice of legality. Through case studies of the climate change regime, the anti-torture norm, and the prohibition on the use of force, it is shown that these three elements produce a distinctive legal legitimacy and a sense of commitment among those to whom law is addressed.

• Provides a novel theory of how international obligation is created and sustained, showing that a continuing practice of legality is crucial in both treaty and customary law • Addresses a fundamental divide amongst international lawyers over the role of 'soft law' • Helps IR theorists and students understand the particular value of legal norms • Demonstrates that norm-interested IR theory and accounts of law that are not purely rationalist are neither naïve nor inevitably optimistic


Introduction; 1. An interactional theory of international legal obligation; 2. Shared understandings: making and unmaking international law; 3. Interactional law and compliance: law's hidden power; 4. Climate change: building a global legal regime; 5. Torture: undermining normative ambition; 6. The use of force: normative ebb and flow; Conclusion.

Prize Winner

ASIL Creative Scholarship Award 2011 - Winner


'Jutta Brunné and Stephen Toope have written an engagingly readable and perceptive book that draws fruitfully on some of Lon Fuller's ideas, as they explore the ways in which international norms and obligations have emerged and evolved during recent decades.' Matthew H. Kramer, Transnational Legal Theory

'… exceedingly good … a highly convincing account of the emergence of international law.' Wibren van der Burg, University of Toronto Law Journal

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