What Exactly Does International Law Mean?

by Henry Farrell on October 22, 2009

“Gideon Rachman”:http://blogs.ft.com/rachmanblog/2009/10/the-goldstone-report-and-international-law/

I thought the FT leader on the Goldstone report got it about right. The report on Israel’s assault on Gaza is a serious bit of work and it’s fairly desperate to try to discredit it by calling its author a “self-hating Jew”. The bigger problem lies with the UN Human Rights Council … And lying behind that, is a still bigger problem with the very idea of impartial international law. … I asked whether international law really deserved the same status as domestic law? After all, the very basis of justice in a nation-state is equality before the law – anybody who commits a murder should be arrested and prosecuted, no matter how powerful they are. But this basic principle does not apply in the international arena. Almost all the people hauled before the ICC have been African leaders; and the UN special tribunal on the former Yugoslavia (where Goldstone was chief prosecutor) only got to prosecute the likes of Milosevic because Serbia was defeated in a war. … The trouble is that … the system of international law that we currently have is as much about power in the international system, as about human rights or the law.

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I like to think that I know a little bit about contrarianism. So I’m disturbed to see that people who are making roughly infinity more money than me out of the practice aren’t sticking to the unwritten rules of the game.
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