Constructivism and International Law

1763 Words8 Pages
“Constructivism” does not espouse a substantive international relations theory of its own, but rather criticizes other theorists for failing to take account of the full content and sources of state interests. For constructivists, the international system is an ideational construct of state actors, in which there are widely shared inter-subjective beliefs. States “construct” one another in their relations, and states’ sovereignty constantly defining and redefining it through social interactions. To fully understand the “interests” of states it’s important to understand human consciousness and its role in international society, and why certain norms – such as a norm favoring the use of force to protect human rights – can emerge within the society of states (Murphy, 2012). The post-Cold War era has seen international law (IL), transnational actors, decisional fora, and modes of regulation mutate into fascinating hybrid forms. IL now comprises a complex blend of customary, positive, declarative, and “soft” law, which seeks not simply to ratify existing practice, but to elevate it. As sovereignty has declined in importance, global decision-making functions are now executed by a complex rugby serum of nation-states, intergovernmental organizations, regional compacts, nongovernmental organizations, and informal regimes and networks. The system has become “neomonistic” with new channels opening for the interpenetration of international and domestic law through judicial decision, legislation and executive action. New forms of dispute resolution, executive action, administrative decision-making and enforcement, and legislation have emerged as part of a transnational legal process that influences national conduct, transforms national interests, and helps constitute and reconstitute national identities (Koh, 1997). For contemporary constructivists, social structures are built
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