About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

11 Global Governance 311 (2005)
International Legal Consensus and the Control of Excess State Violence

handle is hein.journals/glogo11 and id is 321 raw text is: Global Governance 11 (2005), 311-330

International Legal Consensus and the
Control of Excess State Violence
Bruce Cronin
The dramatic increase in the level of global governance through multi-
lateral institutions is leading to changes in the theoretical underpin-
nings of international law and its role in contemporary world politics.
In specific, well-defined areas of international law, states have begun
to recognize the authority of international consensus over individual
state consent as the foundation of legal obligation. Specifically, states
have begun to develop a consensus around the control of excess state
violence, defined as a level of violence exceeding that which inter-
national political actors consider to be legitimate for pursuing national
interests. This includes crimes against humanity, genocide, and grave
breaches of the laws of war. In a major shift from twentieth-century
practice, states are increasingly recognizing this body of international
law as having universal applicability considered binding on all states
regardless of whether they are parties to specific treaties. KEYWORDS:
international law, Security Council, international organization, state
violence, international consensus.
he prevailing theory of international law views voluntary state
consent as the primary if not the sole foundation for international
legal obligation. Political realists, liberal internationalists, neolib-
eral institutionalists, and legal positivists all agree that states are
required to adhere only to those international legal commitments that
they voluntary adopt through their domestic political systems. Such an
approach preserves a state's right to reject any principle or obligation
that it does not deem to be in its interest to adopt. At the same time, it
also strengthens the international legal order by committing states to
adhere to those rules that they themselves have agreed to follow. Thus,
a consent-based international legal system facilitates cooperation by
enabling states to pursue common goals without sacrificing their sover-
eignty. As a result, consent-based legal norms have dominated inter-
national law for more than a century.
Recent trends, however, suggest that foreign policy officials and legal
analysts from many states have begun to question whether this is suffi-
cient for addressing some of the most vexing controversies in international

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most