13 Jun Vive la Différence?: The EU, the US, Russia, and Competing Conceptions of International Law
The recent G-8 summit has highlighted some of the policy differences among the US, Russia, and the states of the EU. Robert Kagan has written about certain disparities in US and European views in a much-quoted essay and subsequent book that spawned the bon mot that “Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus.” But beyond missile shields and climate change, each of these three powers (I’ll consider the EU in the aggregate, for the moment) have significant divergences in how they approach international law in particular. From topics ranging from the content of human rights law and the relation of international law to domestic law to the doctrine of sovereign equality and the recognition of states, there are important disparities not only in the diplomatic practices of these countries but in their conceptions of the content and application of international law.
I have been reading and writing about some of these differences and have posted new essay that is part of my ongoing project looking at law and hegemony in Eurasia. Written for the recent symposium organized by the Yale Journal of International Law on the “’New’ New Haven School”, my piece focuses on Eurasia as a geographic space where multiple conceptions of public order, including those of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and Islamic fundamentalism, overlap, interact, and at times compete, especially in the unstable arc of states bordering Russia.
After an initial section discussing some relevant ideas from New Haven School jurisprudence, I propose the concepts of systemic borderlands (states that are the geopolitical crossroads between two or more normative orders) and of normative friction (the process by which competing conceptions of public order interact in these borderland states) as means of describing normative interactions in a multipolar world. I then consider examples of systemic borderlands and normative friction in Eurasia and, in particular, the recent disputes over the accession of East European states to the EU and NATO and similar conflicts concerning states in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions.
I end by returning to the opening jurisprudential questions and discuss ways in which the New Haven School can build on some of its own original insights in light of changes in international politics.
Any thoughts or comments are welcome.