Justice, the State and International Relations by Leo McCarthy (auth.)

By Leo McCarthy (auth.)

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Alongside the development of a theory of the state and international justice, it will be important for us to show that the normative elements of a society are sufficiently evident in the relations of states for it to be possible to speak in practical terms of an international society as a context for justice-claims. 3 CONTENDING VIEWS OF JUSTICE AND THE STATE The realist belief that justice-claims have no inherent meaning outside the state, and that the state in providing the unique validating context for such claims comes thereby to acquire moral autonomy, or to constitute, in Hegel's terms, a self-subsistent ethical order, will be found to be untenable.

It is argued that there is a disjunction between political and ideological influence in the United Nations and the responsibility for the maintenance of international order which must lie principally with the militarily and economically strongest states. This responsibility was recognised in the UN Charter, but the role of the General Assembly is said by its conservative and realist critics to have exceeded what was originally intended, and to have usurped the pivotal role of the major states. It still remains the case that the formal equality of states as members of the United Nations in no way alters the facts of great inequalities of power among them.

It will later be argued at length that it is unwarranted to characterise international society as lacking in any agreement on substantive moral values, or to view international law as solely concerned with regulating peaceful coexistence. Evidently, some reconciliation of the facts of sovereignty with the moral imperatives of justice and rights is necessary for any general account of the state and international justice. We need to show why it is that justice and rights, which are concepts with a universal and autonomous nature, are most effectively upheld by the state, an institution which is inherently restrictive, imperfect and transitory in its nature.

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