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The Power and Purpose of International LawInsights from the Theory and Practice of Enforcement$
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Mary Ellen O'Connell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195368949

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195368949.001.0001

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Compliance Theory

Compliance Theory

(p.57) Chapter 2 Compliance Theory
The Power and Purpose of International Law

Mary Ellen O'Connell

Oxford University Press

After World War II, the international legal restrictions on the use of force were finally codified in the United Nations Charter. The United States championed the Charter until Morgenthau and his successors persuaded many policymakers to pursue military superiority in the world in disregard to an international law seen as lacking powerful means of enforcement. Henkin and others responded that it is not enforcement that gives law its authority but actual compliance. Compliance theory provided an answer to the international law deniers that worked for a time until international law became the target not only of political science “realists” but also of post-modern legal critics. Post-modernism, however, also held the seeds of renewal for international legal theory with its critique of rationalism, positivism, and imperialism.

Keywords:   realists, United Nations Charter, compliance, post-modernism, critical theory

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