The Politics of Interest in International Law

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The article examines the substance and form of 20th century positivist international law; in particular the way in which each determines the other. The text describes the turn to interests in international law, which evolved slowly in scope and depth. By examining Lassa Oppenheim’s focus on ‘common interests’ that united states and Hans Kelsen’s focus on the ‘struggle of interests’ that constituted politics, the article studies two phenomena produced by the foundational role taken by interests during the 20th century. First, this role contributed to putting an end to the moral discussion about the treatment of native populations. Secondly, it curbed debate about a common political project for a global order, thus creating conformity characterized by abuse of power – all in the name of the neutrality of positivist law. This article suggests that the work of these two leading theoreticians in the field has contributed to the shaping of the legal theory of mainstream positivist international law, and seeks to foreground discussions about the different theories on the role of law in politics. In this manner it aims to help reconceptualize law in such a way as to bring about a situation in which discussions of a common political project for the international arena are more central.
TidskriftEuropean Journal of International Law
Sidor (från-till)765-793
Antal sidor29
StatusPublicerad - nov 2014
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 513 Juridik

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