International Law and Theories of Global Justice: Remarks

Steven R. Ratner, University of Michigan Law School
James Stewart, Peter A. Ballard School of Law, University of British Columbia
Jiewuh Song, Seoul National University
Carmen Pavel, King's College London


International law (IL) and political philosophy represent two rich disciplines for exploring issues of global justice. At their core, each seeks to build a better world based on some universally agreed norms, rules, and practices, backed by effective institutions. International lawyers, even the most positivist of them, have some underlying assumptions about a just world order that predisposes their interpretive methods; legal scholars have incorporated concepts of justice in their work even as their overall pragmatic orientation has limited the nature of their inquiries. Many philosophers, for their part, have engaged with IL to some extent—at a minimum recognizing that legal rules may need to be the vehicles for their own theories of justice, or going a step further to appraise them for their underlying moral content.