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Publication Title

Washington University Global Studies Law Review

Abstract

This article suggests that international law should be elevated from its current status as an occasional tool or convenient rhetorical device of U.S. foreign policy to a chief element both in international relations and United States diplomacy. Put another way, the United States needs to take its commitment to the rule of law to the global stage, thereby playing to American strengths, enhancing American legitimacy and moral authority, and perpetuating the leadership role that the United States has historically exercised in the conduct of international affairs. As the hegemon presiding over—and benefiting the most from—the global economy, the United States has both a vital interest in maintaining the stability of that system and a responsibility to ensure that the system is fair. While military force will surely continue to play a central role in the conduct of foreign affairs, coercion without legal authority lacks legitimacy and breeds resentment. As lawyers and as citizens, we understand the deep and abiding importance of law and legal institutions domestically—and it is virtually impossible to conceive of a just, peaceful, and stable international order without seeing a place for the rule of law within that order.

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