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1 International Law in Action

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins with a series of snapshots, each taken to bring into focus various examples of international law in action. Each offers a different angle of perception. Traditionally, international law has been characterized as a system of rules, or more broadly as a normative system built on a foundation of legal principles, many of which are derived from general principles that are shared by major systems of national law. In modern times, it has been argued, especially in North America, that international law must evolve as the authoritative response to demands everywhere for justice and human dignity, as a system of values as well as a politically neutral system of rules. The chapter explores the implications of this divergence. It illustrates how even the most ancient and most revered principles of international law can be brought under stress, and shows how the institutional system of the world community responds.

Keywords:international law; justice; legal principles; national law; system of rules; world community



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