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POLSC412: International Law

Unit 2: Power, Politics, and International Law   The preeminent modern theorist of international relations, Hans Morganthau (1978), wrote: “In the modern world, nations active in international politics are continuously preparing for, actively involved in, or recovering from organized violence in the form of war.” [[1]](#_ftn1) One overriding theme that recurs throughout historical consideration of the laws of war is that of reality versus morality.  Legal realists in international affairs see the world in terms of power struggles and national interests, rather than through the more pure prisms of ethics, law, morality, and ideology. [[2]](#_ftn2) Legal and political realists contend that human behavior is motivated by three factors: fear, self-interest, and honor. [[3]](#_ftn3)


[1] Morganthau, H. Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace.  New York, NY: Knopf, 1978, p. 42.

[2] Boyle, F. A. Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations (1898–1922).  Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999, p, 7.

[3]  Kaplan, R. 2002. Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos.  New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2002, p. 47.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 6 hours to complete. 

☐    Subunit 2.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 2.3: 2 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Define realist, liberal, and constructivist political theories. - Explain the application and impact of realist, liberal, and constructivist theories to international law. - Identify ways in which unipolar and bipolar governance has impacted international law in the 20th and 21st centuries. - Assess political issues that may arise in the interpretation and enforcement of international law. - Explain how the United Nations and its subordinate agencies attempt to keep the peace and enforce international law among nations. - Assess the effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council, International Court of Justice, and International Criminal Court at enforcement of international law.

2.1 The United Nations   In the final year of World War II, the leaders of the United States and U.S.S.R. met at Yalta and signed an agreement relating to the release of prisoners of war and the treatment of civilians in the former Axis and Axis-occupied territories; the agreement came to be known as “The Yalta Accord” (1945).  The short-term provisions of the accord required the United States and U.S.S.R. to provide food, shelter, clothing, and transportation (if necessary) to detainees’ and relocated civilians’ points of origin.  The accord also set the terms for the initial meeting of the United Nations in New York.

Under the long-term previsions of the Yalta Accord, the Soviet Union occupied much of Eastern Europe for over four decades.  Contemporary critics of the Yalta Accord assert that the agreement was unjust and subjugated millions to totalitarian rule.

The United Nations (UN) began with a General Assembly, which held meetings at which representatives of all member nations were guaranteed a “say” and vote in matters before the body and the UN Security Council.  The UN Security Council has 15 members. Ten of the members are countries that rotate in to sit on the council, whereas the five preeminent nuclear powers (United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom) are given both permanent seats on the council and the authority to veto or block any action or vote that comes before the UN Security Council for action.

  • Reading: United Nations: “UN at a Glance” Link: United Nations: “UN at a Glance” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please go to the linked page and read the article, which discusses the formation of the United Nations and explains its mission.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: United Nations: “Main Bodies” Link: United Nations: “Main Bodies” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Go to the linked page and read the article, which discusses main bodies  of the United Nations, such as the Security Council and the International Court of Justice, and explains the types of issues each seek to resolve.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Web Media: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Emmanuel Roucounas’ “Successive, Parallel and Contradictory Commitments in International Law” Link: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Emmanuel Roucounas’ “Successive, Parallel and Contradictory Commitmentsin International Law” (RealPlayer Video)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link titled “Video” in the middle of the page.  Please watch the video presentation (63 mins.).
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.2 Power and International Law   Efforts to create and enforce international law have historically been influenced by power relationships among nations.  In this unit, you will explore how power impacts modern international law.

  • Reading: IR Theory.com: Mark Beavis’ “IR Paradigms, Approaches and Theories” Link: IR Theory.com: Mark Beavis’ “IR Paradigms, Approaches and Theories” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please review this summary of the international relations and power relationships.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Web Media: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Yasuaki Onuma’s “International Law in a Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World of the 21st Century” Link: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Yasuaki Onuma’s “International Law in a Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World of the 21st Century” (RealPlayer Video)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link titled “Video” under the “International Law in a Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World of the 21st Century” heading.  Please watch the video presentation (43 mins.).
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

2.3 Multiculturalism and International Law   One problem that recurs in international law is that of cultural conflicts in the setting of legal norms.  This unit explores the impact that culture has on international law.

  • Reading: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Edward McWhinney’s Lecture Notes on “Multiculturalism and Contemporary International Law Making” Link: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Edward McWhinney’s Lecture Notes on “Multiculturalism and ContemporaryInternational LawMaking” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Click on the “Related Materials” tab and then click to download the “Outline of Lecture.”  Please review Dr. McWhinney’s lecture notes prior to viewing his video presentation below.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Web Media: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Edward McWhinney’s “Multiculturalism and Contemporary International Law Making” Link: The United Nations’ Audiovisual Library of International Law: Edward McWhinney’s “Multiculturalism and Contemporary International Law Making” (RealPlayer Video)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link titled “Video” under the “Multiculturalism and Contemporary International Law Making” heading.  Please watch the video presentation (87 mins.).
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.