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Among the most significant contributions of policy-oriented jurisprudence to our understanding of international legal process is its identification of minimum and optimum world public order as the overarching goals of international law. Minimum public order in its essence refers to the global state of affairs with limited recourse to unauthorized violence to solve disputes, while optimum public order is synonymous with a world in which human dignity is maximally protected. These two concepts, augmented by other pairings now second-nature to us (for example, authority and control, and myth system and operational code), have also permeated—in the latter case, germinated in—the scholarship of Michael Reisman. From early writings on the legitimacy of sanctions against Rhodesia to more recent scholarship about the limits of self-defense or international criminal law, Reisman has been navigating the shoals of minimum and optimum public order, clarifying past trends of decision and offering prescriptions for norms and institutions that will advance both of these causes.


This is an accepted manuscript; the final published version can be found as Ratner, Steven R. "Between Minimum and Optimum World Public Order: An Ethical Path for the Future." In Looking to the Future: Essays on International Law in Honor of W. Michael Reisman, edited by Mahnoush H. Arsanjani, Jacob K. Cogan, Robert D. Sloane, and Siegfried Wiessner, 195-215. Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2011. DOI: