Dalhousie Law Journal


international law, bias, prejudice, sovereignty, jurisdiction, state responsibility, feminism, environment


In this article, international law is viewed as a social and self-constituting phenomenon As the product of international society's actualization, it contains many biases and prejudices. Given the inherent subjectivity of any system designed to regulate relations between people - and peoples - it is of utmost importance to subject international law to a searching scrutiny of its tendencies to emphasise certain interests, to exalt particular groups and to order society in preconceived ways. This article uncovers the insidious structural biases of international law including those just beneath the surface as well as those that are firmly embedded within the consciousness of the discipline's conception. It proceeds to consider the structural discourses of contemporary international law that revolve around the fundamental concepts of sovereignty jurisdiction and state responsibility Additionally. the sovereignty discussion distinguishes between three categories of bias: (1) biases remaining as remnants of nineteenth century discourses; (2) biases inhabiting the major metaphors of international law, especially as illuminated by feminism's critique of the state and state power; and (3) biases surrounding major substantive areas of international law, such as protection of the environment and the Kyoto Protocol. The article concludes with an exploration of fairness discourse In an attempt to reign in bias, and thereby to resolve the paradox of universalism and the difficulties it has created for international law and society