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Some Differences Between International Law And International Ethics

602 words - 3 pages

International law and international ethics, although seemingly different at first glance, have quite a few similarities when given further examination.
International law is based on positivism, what is observable and what is practiced. Like any system of laws, international law is meant to maintain order within the international system. International law is also meant to maintain a sense of justice. The attempts to meet these objectives are found in the international institutions such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. Unfortunately, there are times when order and justice come into conflict. The Cold War era, for example was highly ordered, but there were quite a few injustices observed at the time. In Kosovo, on the other hand, the UN Security Council could not maintain order and acted out of a sense of justice.
International Ethics are normative in nature, i.e. what should happen in the international system based on moral constructs and political theory. What a lot of traditions in international ethics attempt to do is provide a perspective of the world such that a common morality is revealed and espoused. Since no one ethical tradition can provide the often sought clarity to the multitudes of situations and issues found in the world, there are multitudes of ethical traditions set in place to attempt such a challenge. Issues within the international system and at the state level can often be interpreted in a few ethical traditions at once, rather than a winner-take-all scenario as seen in the objectives of international law. For example, the existence of the state and its institutions can be described in realist, neo-realist, communitarian, liberal-nationalist/social contractarian, and distributive justice traditions depending on the question posed and the parameters of the discussion. Ethical traditions, for the most part, are non-changing. As a comparison,...

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