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A normative theory of international law based on new natural law theory

Searl, Mark (2014) A normative theory of international law based on new natural law theory. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis articulates a normative theory of international law based on new natural law theory. New natural law theory is a theory of ethics, politics, and law that is based on the classical natural law doctrine of Thomas Aquinas. The primary reference point of the thesis in relation to new natural law theory is the work of John Finnis, who in Natural Law and Natural Rights and subsequent writings elaborates the theory in the consideration of fundamental concepts in political philosophy and legal theory. The thesis examines the tenets of new natural law theory regarding the common good, authority, law, justice, human rights, and legal obligation, and uses these to formulate normative claims regarding the moral purpose of international law and the moral standards that international law should satisfy in light of its purpose. The thesis posits the existence of an ‘international common good’, encompassing a set of supranational conditions that are instrumental to human welfare and that require international cooperation for their realisation. The thesis claims that the primary moral purpose of international authority and international law is to further the international common good through resolving the coordination problems of the international community of states. Identifying ‘principles of justice’ for international law, the thesis asserts that positive international law should promote and demonstrate respect for human rights, and should also promote and protect the international common good. The thesis further argues that states have a general moral obligation to obey international law, based primarily on the necessity of state compliance with international laws in order to facilitate the effectiveness of such laws in promoting the international common good. These claims are elaborated with reference to existing features of international law, and through comparison with existing normative and non-normative perspectives in international legal theory on the concepts considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Mark Searl
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Melissaris, Emmanuel and Humphreys, Stephen

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