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Comparative International Law$
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Anthea Roberts, Paul B. Stephan, Pierre-Hugues Verdier, and Mila Versteeg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190697570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190697570.001.0001

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Why Comparative International Law Needs International Relations Theory

Why Comparative International Law Needs International Relations Theory

(p.71) 4 Why Comparative International Law Needs International Relations Theory
Comparative International Law

Daniel Abebe

Oxford University Press

This chapter challenges the conventional wisdom that international relations theory has nothing to offer scholars interested in comparative international law. It argues that comparativists should not underestimate the value of international relations theory in explaining how and why certain states adopt particular interpretations of international law. While international relations theory cannot explain the evolution of specific doctrines, it can be very useful in understanding the general approaches to international law that states embrace. The chapter develops the connection between domestic institutional design and the interpretation of international law on one side, and realism, institutionalism, and liberalism on the other. It argues that greater consideration of the relationship among power, domestic institutional design, and international relations theory paradigms will not only prove fruitful for the comparative international law project but also for those thinking about the aims of international law and the operation of international politics.

Keywords:   comparative international law, international relations theory, normative analysis, realism, institutionalism, liberalism, international politics

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