From Volume 77, Number 3 (March 2004)
International law is back. Once derided as pretentious and obscure, the field has blossomed over the last decade into a cutting-edge academic discipline. Yet the explosion of international law is of far more than academic interest. Major national and international policymakers are busily creating and using international institutions in an attempt to remake the world: the international criminal court, a World Trade Organization appellate court with real teeth, war crimes tribunals, weapons inspectors under international legal mandates, and the list goes on. Advocates in violent conflicts appeal to “international legality” as a way of gaining strength. In the wake of September 11th, several observers have suggested that these kinds of institutions could play a critical role in the war on terrorism and represent a better way than military means to forestall chaos and avoid a clash of civilizations.