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Within the context of our roles as part of a research group at Princeton’s Center for Theological Inquiry, Mary Ellen and I have had many wonderful conversations about natural law as a source for international law. My sense is we both share the view that natural law could be such a source, and we have discussed various instances...

Despite the title of his post, I do not read Chris Borgen as a natural law skeptic! He accepts the existence of norms and principles that must be explained by theories other than positivism. He is just skeptical about the standard approach to explaining the source of natural law, namely, the use of the concept of the common...

At risk of distracting us too soon from the merits vel non of natural law, I wanted to take up another piece of Mary Ellen’s account – namely, her fairly positive outlook on the prospects of domestic court enforcement of international law. Despite the subject matter’s placement in the very last chapter of the book, Mary Ellen I think rightly notes:...

In working through an explanation for the source of international law’s authority in the international community, Mary Ellen O’Connell describes the important role of positive law but also shows its limits. For example, it is very hard to imagine a serious contention that it is somehow possible to legalize genocide or slavery through the mere fact of enacting positive law....

In response to Will Fettes’s thoughtful comment: The problem is not with positivism per se but positivism alone. By the 1960s, certainly in the United States there was a view that only positive law theory explained law and positive theory relied on the existence of the usual legal institutions—with their absence on the international plane, positivists could not understand how...

President-elect Obama’s campaign for the presidency was all about change—change we can believe in. No doubt the readers of Opinio Juris have a long list of topics on which they wish to see change: Guantanamo Bay, CIA interrogation, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Congo, Darfur, weapons proliferation, the global environment, the global economy, etc. But even if the new President...

John has kindly agreed to let me post his private response to my previous post about his speech at the Fletcher School.  Before I do, though, I want to reiterate how important it is to not let the US's refusal to join the ICC blind us to the many significant contributions the US has made, and continues to make, to...

As most readers likely know, Germany recently arrested Rose Kabuye, the President of Rwanda's chief of protocol, on behalf of France, who intends to prosecute her for being involved in shooting down then-President Juvenal Habayarimana's plane, the event that triggered the Hutu-led 1994 genocide.  It appears that Kabuye actually wants to be prosecuted, because it will give her -- and...

I sharply criticized New York Times reporter William Glaberson - the Times's chief Guantanamo reporter - last week for, among other things, failing to take note of Benjamin Wittes and the centrality of his book, Law and the Long War.  I am happy to report that Glaberson has a new article out in today's NYT, this time interviewing a wide...

On Monday through Wednesday next week, Mary Ellen O'Connell, the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School, will join us to discuss her new book, The Power and Purpose of International Law.  We are also very pleased that Beth Simmons, the Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Clarence Dillon Professor...

Via Tom Barnett's blog, I came across this essay by Jim Hoagland that was published last month in the Washington Post. Hoagland set out observations about the politicking at the World Policy Conference that was sponsored by the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales, a French think tank. What he saw has some interesting implications about the importance of soft power. After setting the scene by describing Russian...

[caption id="attachment_5503" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Malé, Maldives"][/caption] This week's news out of the Maldives is the sort of story that makes international lawyers salivate. It has something for everyone, bringing together issues of democracy, transitional justice, climate change, the law of the sea, not to mention good, old-fashioned sovereignty.  On Tuesday, Mohamed Nasheed was sworn in as the archipelago's new President, ending...