What is the international rule of law?

The rule of law is widely cited as a desirable model for international politics, with inherent progressive tendencies and a self-evident meaning. However the concept itself is rarely defined. I examine the concept, as a theory and a practice, and find ambiguities and contradictions that undermine its common appeal. This is important because international legality is often used as a legitimating discourse for political power, and unstated disagreements about the meaning of the international rule of law can impede conversations about substantive political issues.

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Published in The Global Context: How Politics, Investment and Institutions Impact European Businesses. Edited by Javier Solana and Angel Saz-Carranza, ESADE Barcelona.

Ian Hurd Associate Professor, Political Science Director, International Studies Program Northwestern University



New essay on the international rule of law

While it is common to refer to the international rule of law, it is less common to define it or to explore what it means. In this essay I examine the international rule of law both in practice and as a concept. This is important because many controversies about the direction of world politics in fact rest on different accounts of the international rule of law. // Aunque es común referirse al imperio internacional de la ley, es menos común definirlo o explorar lo que significa. En este ensayo examino el imperio internacional de la ley en la práctica y en teoría.

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Published in Eidos: Revista de Filosofia



Nominations now open for Chadwick Alger book prize

The 2015 Chadwick Alger book prize is now open for nominations. The Alger prize is open to books published in 2015 on international organization, global governance, and related topics, and is sponsored by the International Organization section of the International Studies Association.

Books can be nominated by their authors, publishers, or others. To submit a book for consideration, send copies to the three members of the Prize Committee: Len Seabrooke, Patricia Owens, and Sarah Percy. We will be accepting books with a 2015 publication date until December 10 2015. For questions, please contact Ian Hurd, Chair of the ISA-IO section at

Len Seabrooke
Department of Business and Politics
Copenhagen Business School
Steen Blichers Vej 22
Frederiksberg 2000

Patricia Owens
International Relations
Arts C
University of Sussex

Sarah Percy, 
c/o Richard Devetak
Associate Professor in International Relations and Head of School
School of Political Science and International Studies
University of Queensland
Brisbane QLD 4072