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The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law edited by Orford, Anne; Hoffmann, Florian (2nd June 2016)

Part II Approaches, Ch.17 Constructivism and the Politics of International Law

Filipe dos Reis, Oliver Kessler

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 October 2019

Subject(s):
Responsibility of international organizations — Customary international law — General principles of international law — Relationship of international law & host state law — Sources of international law — Private international law

This chapter argues that the ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ versions of constructivism differ in their very understanding of the politics of international law and thus the way they connect to international legal theory (ILT). The moderate version is formed as an attempt to marry sociological institutionalism with (what this version perceives to be) critical theory. The research of moderate constructivists is driven by a functionalist understanding of international law, in which law helps to secure normative progress. This leads moderate constructivists to make visible the force of law through states’ compliance and, subsequently, the politics of law involved in their reasons for doing/not-doing so. By taking compliance as its central problématique, this literature often refers to liberal writers in ILT and shares with them a functional understanding of law.

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