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International Law and International Relations

Robert J. Beck


Comment on this article   Perhaps not coincidentally, with the end of the Cold War came increasing calls by scholars for collaboration between the disciplines of International Law (IL) and International Relations (IR). “Law” should once again be taken seriously by political scientists, it was contended, while political science methods might effectively be employed by lawyers ( Abbott 1989; 1992 ; Slaughter Burley 1993 ). But just how far have the two disciplines progressed over the past two decades? What theoretical approaches from IL and IR have been most effectively exploited by interdisciplinarians? What lies ahead for IL/IR interdisciplinarity? This essay will address these crucial and related questions in turn. Before proceeding, though, six preliminary observations may be offered. A 1996 essay posited that the borders between the disciplines of IL and IR were not readily demarcatable and therefore contestable ( Beck 1996 :4). This characterization remains accurate today. It should be added, though, that the discipline with which a given scholar may be associated is also contestable, or, at least, not always self-evident. For how does one decide who constitutes an “International Relations” or “International Law” scholar? By the highest academic degree that the scholar has earned? This approach works reasonably well except for scholars like Craig Barker, Michael Byers, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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