I have always viewed the idea of international law with healthy scepticism, without being drawn into the fatal delusion of realism. Over almost four decades of closely studying these things I have never quite known whether international law referred to an actual body of laws that had passed through a legislature, followed up by monitoring and enforcement, or whether it referred to international “rule of law”.

None of this scepticism or personal incredulity should be seen as traducing the work of, say, the International Criminal Court (ICC), or dismissing the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT) that serves as the legal basis for global trade. While my scepticism in this particular case sits uncomfortably close to more conservative politics, my understanding is that discussions about international law place too little emphasis on power, dominance, inequality and morality. It leans on the false belief that “everyone is equal before the law”...

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