The Value of International Legality Work-in-Progress Seminars

This seminar is part of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies Work-in-Progress Seminars (WiPS).

Mainstream political theory has a reasonably settled understanding of why the domestic rule of law matters. Fine philosophical disagreements aside, most scholars accept some version of what I shall call the ‘personhood thesis’: that the rule of law matters because individual – that is to say, human – people matter, morally speaking.

However, turning to international law, it is by no means clear whether states, which are some of the most visible and powerful subjects of the international legal system, can be said to matter in a similar way. What moral status, if any, do they have? Is it possible to justify the notion that states should be treated analogously to natural persons in the domestic case? Are states entitled to the protections ordinarily associated with the rule of law? If so, why?

In this paper, I critique several existing answers to these questions, before suggesting a promising alternative: that states matter qua legal subjects to the extent that they are ethically valuable political communities.

All welcome to attend. This is a free event, though registration is required via Eventbrite.

Lunch will be provided.