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The Geopolitics of Race, Empire, and Expertise at the ICC  

Oumar Ba, K. Jo Bluen, and Owiso Owiso

With the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998, the international community created the first permanent international tribunal to hold perpetrators of atrocity crimes—namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression—accountable. Whereas linear and teleological narratives of progress toward a world of justice and accountability would hail such a major step as a culmination of a journey that Nuremberg set in motion, a critical reading of the origins, discourses, and mechanisms of the Rome Statute system shows the fissures and shaky foundations of problematic dispositions of international criminal law and the current international justice ecosystem. The International Criminal Court, through its design, operations, and mechanisms ensures that accountability for powerful states and their citizens are as constricted as possible, leaving room for an unbalanced, two-tiered international legal system eager to criminalize the subaltern, racialized, citizen of the Global South “other.” As the crisis that marked the (short) history of the Court has deepened, efforts to review and reform the institution have addressed some of these challenges, while still evading other subjects.


Human Rights in Latin America  

James C. Franklin

The systematic study of human rights came into its own in the 1980s on the heels of expanded efforts by human rights organizations, the U.S. Congress, and the Carter administration to respond to human rights abuses. Latin America was a primary target of these efforts and many of the early studies on human rights focused on this region. Here, an early literature on human rights formed around the practical question of whether U.S. foreign aid allocations were steered away from human rights violators, as the law required. The literature brought some of the first attempts to measure human rights violations systematically, and several of these scholars moved on to broader questions about what caused human rights abuses and on global efforts to stop them. This included analyses of threat perceptions, human rights movements, foreign policy, naming and shaming, and transitional justice. Some of the key theories in this literature were developed, at least in part, by Latin Americanists and a lot of early empirical application of the theories focused on this region. Over time, this literature has become increasingly global, and thus earlier research on Latin America greatly influenced the broader literature on human rights. Alongside the evolution of the scholarly literature, the nature of human rights abuses in Latin America has also changed. After the widespread democratization of the region, abuses shifted from those primarily targeted at political opposition to actions targeted at socially marginalized individuals. This suggests an important new topic for researchers.


The Institutions of International Society  

Tonny Brems Knudsen

The “fundamental” or “primary” institutions of international society, among them sovereignty, diplomacy, international law, great power management, the balance of power, trade, and environmental stewardship, have been eagerly discussed and researched in the discipline of international relations (IR), at the theoretical, meta-theoretical, and empirical levels. Generations of scholars associated with not only the English School, but also liberalism and constructivism, have engaged with the “institutions of international society,” as they were originally called by Martin Wight and Hedley Bull in their attempt to develop a historically and sociologically informed theory of international relations. The fact that intense historical, theoretical, and empirical investigations have uncovered new institutional layers, dynamics, and complexities, and thus opened new challenging questions rather than settling the matter is part of its attraction. In the 1960s and 1970s, the early exponents of the English School theorized fundamental institutions as historical pillars of contemporary international society and its element of order. At the turn of the 21st century, this work was picked up by Kal Holsti and Barry Buzan, who initiated a renaissance of English School institutionalism, which specified the institutional levels of international society and discussed possibilities for institutional change. Meanwhile, liberal and constructivist scholars made important contributions on fundamental institutions in key engagements with English School theory on the subject in the late 1980s. These contributions and engagements have informed the most recent wave of (interdisciplinary) scholarship on the subject, which has theorized the room for fundamental institutional change and the role of international organizations in relation to the fundamental institutions of international society.


International Order in Theory and Practice  

Kyle M. Lascurettes and Michael Poznansky

International relations scholars of all stripes have long been interested in the idea of “international order.” At the most general level, international order entails some level of regularity, predictability, and stability in the ways that actors interact with one another. At a level of higher specificity, however, international orders can vary along a number of dimensions (or fault lines). This includes whether order is thin or thick, premised on position or principles, regional or global in scope, and issue specific or multi-issue in nature. When it comes to how orders emerge, the majority of existing explanations can be categorized according to two criteria and corresponding set of questions. First, are orders produced by a single actor or a select subset of actors that are privileged and powerful, or are they created by many actors that are roughly equal and undifferentiated in capabilities and status? Second, do orders come about from the purposive behavior of particular actors, or are they the aggregated result of many behaviors and interactions that produce an outcome that no single actor anticipated? The resulting typology yields four ideal types of order explanations: hegemonic (order is intentional, and power is concentrated), centralized (order is spontaneous, but power is concentrated), negotiated (order is intentional, but power is dispersed), and decentralized (order is spontaneous, and power is dispersed). Finally, it is useful to think about the process by which order can transform or break down as a phenomenon that is at least sometimes distinct from how orders emerge in the first place. The main criterion in this respect is the rapidity with which orders transform or break down. More specifically, they can change or fall apart quickly through revolutionary processes or more gradually through evolutionary ones.


International Organizations and Respect for International Law  

Kendall W. Stiles

International organizations (IOs) have effectively modified the structure of international law. For more than six decades, IOs have echoed the aspirations of humankind, in pursuit of the ideal of realization of justice, and have furthermore contributed to that end. IOs are provided with privileges and immunities that are intended to ensure their independent and effective functioning. These are specified in the treaties that give rise to the organization, which are normally supplemented by further multinational agreements and national regulations under international law. Rather than by national jurisdiction, legal accountability is intended to be ensured by legal mechanisms that are internal to the IO itself and by access to administrative tribunals. In the course of many court cases, where private parties tried to pursue claims against IOs, there has been a gradual realization that alternate means of dispute settlement are required, as states have fundamental human rights obligations to provide plaintiffs with access to court in view of their right to a fair trial. Otherwise, the organizations’ immunities may be put in question in national and international courts.


International Regime Complexity  

Laura Gómez-Mera

A regime complex is an array of overlapping international institutions and agreements that interact to govern in a particular issue area of international relations. International regime complexity refers to the international political dynamics that emerge from the interaction among multiple overlapping institutions within regime complexes. Scholars have identified several factors explaining the emergence of regime complexes and the growing regime complexity in world politics. Some have emphasized the functional rationale for creating institutional linkages to contain negative spillovers across regimes. Others have focused instead on actors’ incentives, pointing to the various expected benefits of governing through regime complexes rather than through separate comprehensive institutions. Scholars have also disagreed about the consequences of regime complexes and, in particular, about the extent to which regime complexity facilitates or hinders international cooperation. The early literature tended to emphasize how institutional proliferation and fragmentation contributed to regulatory conflicts, thus undermining global governance outcomes. By contrast, other works provide a more nuanced account of the effects of regime overlaps, showing that under certain conditions regime complexity contributes to the effectiveness of cooperation. A rich body of empirical evidence drawn from the study of regime complexes in several issue areas, including environmental, trade, security, migration, and public health governance, suggests that what matters is not the fragmentation and overlaps per se but how they are managed. The increasing institutional density and overlaps in international politics in the 21st century has generated significant interest among scholars of international relations (IR). The literature on international regime complexity and regime complexes has evolved theoretically and empirically since the beginning of the 12st century. Three main questions have guided and informed theoretical debates and empirical research on regime complexes. First, what are regime complexes and how are they composed? What is meant by international regime complexity? Second, what causes regime complexity and how do regime complexes emerge? And third, what are the effects and consequences of regime complexity?


The Right to Development  

Daniel J. Whelan

The right to development is an internationally recognized human right that entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, civil, and political development. It is a right held both by individual human persons and all peoples. The right was enshrined in the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 1986. It has since been reiterated as indivisible with all other human rights in scores of UN resolutions and summit outcome documents, most notably the 2030 Agenda for Development, adopted by consensus in 2015. The right to development entails a variety of obligations on states (at the domestic and international levels), regional actors, non-state actors (e.g., transnational corporations), and international organizations. Since 2019, the UN Human Rights Council’s Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development has been discussing a draft Convention on the Right to Development to codify these obligations. Since it first came under discussion at the UN in the 1970s, the right to development has consistently generated debate and controversy among scholars and governments, which has frustrated the formation of a consensus around both conceptual issues (the nature and scope of such a right and how it is defined) and practical considerations (the extent of obligations, who holds them, and challenges of monitoring and implementation). There are those, especially (but not exclusively) in the Global South, who view the right to development as rightfully prioritizing the international duty to cooperate, which is a prerequisite for, first, the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights, and then of civil and political rights. This duty obligates developed countries to provide economic, technological, and other resources to developing states, free of conditionalities. In contrast, although generally agreeing that there are important “soft” obligations for development, skeptics, especially (but not exclusively) in the Global North, are wary of making such aid and assistance obligatory, and they are concerned that the right to development may be (or has been) used to justify curtailing especially civil and political rights in the name of “development.” They instead argue for a “human rights approach to development” that entails national-level commitments to good governance, transparency, accountability, and respect for all human rights in the development process.