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International Law After Postmodernism: Towards Renewal or Decline of International Law?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2004


Along with “globalization” and ideas of a “new world order”, the last 20 years have witnessed the emergence of an (anti-)foundational critique of international law which may be associated with the postmodernist turn of philosophy. In addition, globalization has questioned some of the basic assumptions of international law, especially the primordial role of states. The article analyses several answers postmodern international legal theory has given to the challenges for international law – despair, politicization, history, subjectivism(s), democratic experimentalism, and a return to positivism. It argues that postmodern theory fails to provide a concept for the future of international law but that this is exactly what is needed to save international law from politics and irrelevance. The author comes to the conclusion that a “middle-of-the-road”-approach steering a course between positivist objectivism and the subjective responsibility of the lawyer might be the most promising avenue for the future of international law. Wer mir Dekonstruktion ans Herz legt, und auf Differenz besteht, steht am Anfang eines Gesprächs, nicht an seinem Ziele.Hans-Georg Gadamer

© 2001 Kluwer Law International

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