Perspectives for International Law in the Twenty-First Century

Ethical Perspectives 7 (1):17-23 (2000)
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In our increasingly interactive and interdependent world, we are confronted almost daily with issues in international law: think, for instance, of the recent Pinochet and Öcalan cases, the crises in Iraq, Kosovo and East Timor, or the banana and hormone disputes in the WTO. Add to this continual reports about the activities of international organizations, from the UN to the European Union, and it becomes clear that international law is the order of the day. Whoever follows these international developments, as I do, and whoever is committed to the construction of a solid legal order for the international community, finds himself constantly torn between hope and despair. Signs of hope in recent years include the approval of a statute for the International Criminal Court in Rome on July 17, 1998; the Pinochet decisions of the House of Lords of November 1998 and March 1999; and the coming into force of the Ottawa agreement on anti-personnel mines in March of 1999. Yet who could witness the course of events during the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, and the long period of UN inaction against the violence that broke out in East Timor following the referendum, without feeling some sense of desperation? The mood of the present day, however, should not prevent us from taking a long-term perspective. What kind of international legal order are we moving towards on the threshold of the twenty-first century? Building up a solid international legal order is probably one of the greatest challenges facing humanity at present. Our national legal systems are strongly developed and during the last fifty years, Western Europe has succeeded in constructing an EU legal order which has made possible a peaceful society, welfare and the integration of peoples in Europe. But where do we stand on the world level? Is international law not all too slowly limping behind globalization? And yet, the century we are looking back on has been the century in which international law and the law of international organizations flourished: in the framework of the League of Nations, and then the UN, we have succeeded in codifying, consolidating and developing international law in numerous multilateral treaties ranging from human rights and maritime law to international labour, trade and environmental norms. Never before had the world witnessed such an extensive network of international organizations . Never before did states make such intensive use of treaties for arranging their mutual concerns: more than 30,000 are registered at the UN



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The church's legal challenges in the twenty-first century.John Witte Jr - 1996 - In Andrew R. Cecil & W. Lawson Taitte (eds.), Moral Values: The Challenge of the Twenty-First Century. the University of Texas Press.
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