This chapter investigates the relationship between the concepts of international justice and international law. It suggests that the idea of an international rule of law is constructed on procedural, rather than substantive, accounts of justice. Against the background of two opposing tendencies in the international legal order that influence ideas of international justice, namely the Westphalian and UN Charter accounts, the chapter considers various attempts to incorporate notions of justice in the international legal order. Examples are drawn from the 1970s campaign for a New International Economic Order at the UN, from international adjudication, from feminist campaigns, and from the work of international legal scholars such as Thomas Franck and Steven Ratner. The chapter argues that the concept of international justice has become associated largely with international criminal law, and indicates the limitations of this linkage.
This chapter probes the way in which description, prescription, and critique form a congeries of approaches that together, in turn, produce an intellectual field that might be described as the political theory of international law (though it is hardly one thing, and some of it refuses altogether the injunctions of traditional political theory). All of this will lead to an examination of two particular problems of international diplomacy to which political theories of international law appear to have responded: namely, intervention and war crimes trials, and an engagement with two interdisciplinary turns (to History and to International Relations) through which international law has enlivened its habits of thought and theoretical inclinations.