In 1989, when the Cold War ended, there were six permanent international courts. Today there are more than two dozen that have collectively issued over thirty-seven thousand binding legal rulings. The New Terrain of International Law charts the developments and trends in the creation and role of international courts, and explains how the delegation of authority to international judicial institutions influences global and domestic politics.
The New Terrain of International Law presents an in-depth look at the scope and powers of international courts operating around the world. Focusing on dispute resolution, enforcement, administrative review, and constitutional review, Karen Alter argues that international courts alter politics by providing legal, symbolic, and leverage resources that shift the political balance in favor of domestic and international actors who prefer policies more consistent with international law objectives. International courts name violations of the law and perhaps specify remedies. Alter explains how this limited power--the power to speak the law--translates into political influence, and she considers eighteen case studies, showing how international courts change state behavior. The case studies, spanning issue areas and regions of the world, collectively elucidate the political factors that often intervene to limit whether or not international courts are invoked and whether international judges dare to demand significant changes in state practices.
Karen J. Alter is professor of political science and law at Northwestern University and a permanent visiting professor at the iCourts Center of Excellence, University of Copenhagen School of Law. She is the author of Establishing the Supremacy of European Law and The European Court’s Political Power.
"This pathbreaking book illuminates a quiet revolution that has reshaped international law, and it will change many readers' views about the new global legal system. . . . She masterfully demonstrates how, as the idea of global governance takes root, governments increasingly take pains to be seen as following the law--a development that has greatly increased the power of international courts and judges."--Foreign Affairs
"Alter argues that most observers have failed to comprehend the vast number of international courts and similar adjudicatory methods leading to numerous binding judgments regarding economic disputes, human rights, and criminal law. Tracking these developments in a clear and systematic way, she concludes that there is a zone of international relations governed by the rule of law."--Choice
"This is a solid and sophisticated volume and should be on the reading list of all those who are interested in international courts and tribunals. It provides a strong account of the rapid emergence of international courts and their role in the international political and legal systems. Additionally, the book would be an appropriate read for advanced classes in political sciences and international relations."--Chiara Giorgetti, H-Net Reviews
"The New Terrain of International Law provides the most sophisticated account of how 'new style' international courts alter politics by reducing the monopoly power of governments to determine what the law requires. If you can read only one book on how international courts affect the politics of international law, this is the one to read."--Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University
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