Author: William Burke-White

[William W. Burke-White is Deputy Dean and Professor of Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School.] I am delighted to have this opportunity to engage with the excellent chapter by Gleider Hernandez on the interaction between investment law and the law of armed conflict. The chapter makes an important contribution to an under-studied area of law, namely the interplay of international investment law and other specialized subfields, particularly international humanitarian law. I am hopeful that this chapter will open a broader discussion in this space, which is of both significant jurisprudential and practical consequence. Let me say at the start that I agree with Gleider’s overall approach. Both international investment law and international humanitarian law are specialized sub-fields of public international law, both fields frequently reference public international law generally, and both should be treated as part of the broader system of public international law. Perhaps as a consequence of the growing depth of particular subfields of international law or the nature of issue-specific scholarly inquiry today, all too often fields such as these are studied in isolation. As a result, their interactions are often overlooked and possibilities for mutual synergy (or conflict) are neglected. I credit Gleider (and the editors and contributors of the volume as a whole) for taking on these interactions directly and examining closely the way these fields overlap and interact. Turning to the substantive question, however, I would take a somewhat different approach.

[William W. Burke-White is Deputy Dean and Professor of Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School.] This post is part of the Harvard International Law Journal Volume 54(1) symposium. Other posts from this series can be found in the related posts below. Natalie Lockwood’s article, "International Vote Buying," recently published in the Harvard International Law Journal, makes an important contribution to a set of understudied questions around the legality and appropriateness of international vote-buying. Lockwood quickly admits that international law itself says little about the legality of such vote buying and, therefore, examines the question through an analogy with the legal rules governing vote buying in a variety of domestic contexts. She recognizes, however, that the analogy, while informative, is imperfect. There are significant differences between nature of domestic polities in which such vote buying is generally subject to legal prohibition and the nature of the international community. Yet, the analogy helps inform our thinking about whether vote buying should be prohibited at the international law. In this brief response, I seek to do two things. First, I want to question both the effectiveness and appropriateness of a legal prohibition on vote-buying. Second, I want to suggest that more significant contribution of Lockwood’s article goes far beyond vote-buying and helps refocus debate on the changing nature of power and influence in the international system.

I'm delighted to have been asked to participate in this discussion of Ruti Teitel’s Humanity’s Law. Let me start by simply saying what a great read this book is. Congratulations to Ruti on a book that really does shift our thinking about the base lines of international law, challenge conventional notions of a state-centric international legal system, and help make...