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Decent peace, stability and justice: John Rawls’s international theory applied

Förster, Annette (2012) Decent peace, stability and justice: John Rawls’s international theory applied. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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John Rawls’s international theory, The Law of Peoples, has been read and criticized as “A Theory of International Justice”. His major objective, however, is not the establishment of a just (liberal) world order, but to guide liberal societies towards a reasonable peaceful, stable and just international system. From this starting point, the thesis assesses whether Rawls’s international theory can meet its task to function as a guideline for the promotion of international peace, stability and justice and how that peace might be conceived. The author argues that Rawls sketches the path to a “decent peace”. The scrutiny of the issue takes the form of an in-depth analysis and discussion of The Law of Peoples and a systematic investigation of a number of cases. The dissertation examines the possible contribution of Rawls’s ideas, primarily the Society of Peoples and the principles of the Law of Peoples, to international peace, stability and justice. As the focus lies on decent regimes and a decent peace, three actual decent societies are identified (Oman, Qatar and Singapore), in order to highlight the applicability of the notion to the international system, as well as to ensure that decent regimes are not mere constructions serving to justify imposing liberal principles of non-liberal regimes. The dissertation finally investigates the enlargement of the democratic peace thesis towards a decent peace; it discusses the arguments for a democratic peace and applies them to Rawls’s conception of decent peoples as well as to the identified regimes. It concludes asserting that the decent peace thesis is theoretically wellfounded, whereas the empirical evidence is – due to only three identified regimes – rather weak. As a guideline for the foreign policy of liberal (and decent) societies The Law of Peoples can contribute to more stability and justice in the international realm and promote a decent peace.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Annette Förster
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Brown, Chris

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