The International Rule of Law

In contrast with the previous lectures in this series on the Rule of Law, we are today not concerned with how the Rule of Law operates in a highly organized modem state like our own United States; but are turning instead to the world-wide community (or perhaps more properly international arena or international sphere of action, since the very word “community” may over-emphasize the degree of common sentiment!), in which the present role of the law is far less than within the state. Our first question is whether there is in fact any such thing as an international Rule of Law, or something approaching it. We may be like the legendary essayist on “Snakes in Ireland,” who simply wrote, “There are no snakes in Ireland.” Some would dismiss our topic by saying, “There is no international rule of law.” If I agreed with them, I would sit down and we would all be spared anything further in this lecture. But I do not believe that such would be an accurate appraisal; such a quick denial of the international Rule of Law would not correspond to reality of today.