Comments on Chapters 1 and 2

Steven R. Ratner, University of Michigan Law School

Wants links for full-text to go via SSRN


In this short reply to the papers prepared by Edward Kwakwa and Andreas Paulus, I hope to challenge some of the basic assumptions made by the two authors. These papers, like those of many contributors to this volume, tend to totalize and homogenize the American perspective about the notion of international community. Consequently, they conclude that America’s relationship to that community is defined by a special set of conditions, unique among all global actors. I begin this comment by questioning their initial assumption about a single American viewpoint. In my view, each community within the United States has diverse views that defy each explanation. Later I will question the conclusion that flows from that incorrect assumption. Before beginning, I would point out that, although it would be laudable if global actors endorsed the broad view of the international community that Edward Kwakwa espouses, the term itself really should be used very sparingly. David Kennedy is thus right in identifying the term as a subterfuge. In fact, the various actors of the global legal and political processes act with one voice or react with one view on exceedingly few issues. One does not need to be a critical legal scholar to accept this position.