Friday, January 17, 2014

Alan Dershowitz – A Broad Critique of International Law

There is nothing quite like an assault on international law by one of the most renowned lawyers in the world – the Alan Dershowitz. His public dismissal of international law as “a construct in the mind of a bunch of left wing academics” occurred during a lecture at the Institute of National Security Studies in Israel. This lecture which was taped and uploaded to the Internet has now gone viral -- I’ve seen it most frequently touted on social-media sites by self-proclaimed Israel advocates particularly upset about the recent interim deal the United States made with Iran in Geneva. 

Though deals with international humanitarian law (IHL) and advancing its operationalization through discourse between scholars and practitioners, not jus ad bello concerns, I believe we’d be remiss not to address the recent Dershowitz critiques which have broad and analogous relevance for IHL. Furthermore I believe his remarks underscore a great opportunity to advance IHL precisely because jus in bello issues are kept separate by the law itself from modern jus ad bellum quarrels over preemption v. prevention.

This and upcoming posts in response to Dershowitz’s lecture will be broken into three parts. The first post will identify and develop Dershowitz’s comments and questions that are specifically relevant to IHL. The second post will attempt to address these observations critically. The third post will discuss what strategies and tactics IHL scholars and practitioners can use to respond to these critiques and advance IHL.

PART I – The relevance of Dershowitz’s Attack to IHL

Dershowitz’s scolding of international law (in its entirety) was passionately presented in familiar terms. His line of attack followed this logical progression: international law is only a “construct in the mind of a bunch of left-wing academics”; these academics aren’t rational because they are out of harms way, isolated and misattribute the world as universally good; consequently this has resulted in international law being both irrational, “anachronistic” and “never viable”; therefore states (specifically addressing Israel) do not and should not base their decisions on international law because it may not lead to the outcome best for them.

I want to address Dershowitz’s argument first from a theoretical perspective. During the lecture he said, (in reference to the rationality of Iran) “where one stands is a function of where one sat.” Here Dershowitz is simply suggesting that we are as humans and thus as nations, a product of our environment. In relation to international humanitarian law this stance questions the very notion of universality or what we fondly refer to as “humanity” and its many erudite variations. Can IHL truly register, codify and enforce humanitarian principles when said principles are a matter of perspective and thus not universal?

Dershowitz’s attack on international law is not just theoretical. It is also categorical. Essential to his argument is that international law is being formulated by people unequipped to dutifully address law realistically – i.e. left-wing academics. One could pose that his assumption is that these academics do not understand the operational concerns and challenges of states. To accurately assess this position, we must ask: what actors should be entrusted with the task of universalizing and institutionalizing ethical norms? Furthermore does IHL philosophically or structurally limit the influence of “certain” people? Should international law consider a different “distribution” of authority among decision-makers, academics, and potentially other actors?

Finally Dershowitz mentions that international law does not necessarily produce the most favorable outcome from a state's perspective – thus diminishing both its practicality and value. This leads us to questions surrounding the aim and consequent structure of international humanitarian law. Whose interest is the law of war intended to serve? Militaries, civilians, states, humanity… all of these groups simultaneously? Does international law face the credibility issues expressed and insinuated by Dershowitz? If international law is really so fatally flawed, is it in need of a dramatic overhaul? Should it be eliminated entirely? What will come to replace it?

Please stay tuned next week for the next installment. As always, your comments are welcomed below or in our forum!
Click image for larger view


  1. nteu aya sanes deui abimah bade nyepam we kadieu teh
    obat nyeri saat haid
    obat varises

    1. Hello very nice website Video Bokep!! Guy , .. Excellent .. Super ..
      I will bookmark your site and take the feeds also?
      I am glad to search out a lot of useful info here
      in the post, we’d like work out more strategies on this
      regard, thank you for sharing,. googd your blogs Streaming Video Bokep

  2. Thank you for sharing in this article
    I can learn a lot and could also be a reference
    I am happy to find your website and can join to comment
    I think is very valuable to be able to read your writing, and on this occasion will I use for my reference source
    Thank you so much for sharing, I hope you continue to write spirit next topic

    vimax extender Obat pembesar penis vimax asli


  4. Thank you for his article
    I can learn a lot and could also be a reference
    I wait for an update next article

    vmenplus asli
    agen vmenplus
    agen vmenplus asli
    obat pembesar penis
    vimax asli
    vimax canada
    vimax herbal
    vimax alami

  5. Hello, i am glad to read the whole content of this blog and am very excited and happy to say that the webmaster has done a very good job here to put all the information content and information at one place.


  6. DOMINO206 adalah Pusatnya Game Domino Terpercaya Indonesia. Memberikan pengalaman bermain untuk anda, proses deposit dan withdraw cepat.
    Gabung sekarang juga dan segera menangkan jutaan rupiah setiap harinya !!

    domino 99 indonesia
    domino qiuqiu online
    bandar qq
    Bandar Qiu

    judi domino 99
    BandarQ | BandarQ Online | Agen BandarQ | Domino99 | Agen Domino | AduQ Online Terbaik

  7. Lombok Rinjani Trekking information Rinjani Trekking
    Rinjani Trekking Centre Rinjani Trek Centre
    Rinjani Trekking tour packages Rinjani Trekking Packages
    Mount Rinjani National park Rinjani Trekking Information
    Rinjani Summit Summitting Rinjani
    Speed boat to gili islands Gili Lombok Speed Boat
    Gili islands information Gilis Islands
    Go to gili islands Getting to the Gilis
    Rinjani personal daypack Rinjani requerements
    Mount Rinjani Information Best part Rinjani Mountain
    Mount Rinjani Information, Green Rinjani trekking Green For Mount Rinjani
    Mount Rinjani Information Rinjani daily weather forecast
    Mount Rinjani Information History of mount Rinjani
    Mount Rinjani InformationMain object of Rinjani

  8. Rinjani Trekking Information Rinjani trekking Routes
    Rinjani Trekking Information Rinjani trekking via Senaru
    Rinjani Trekking InformationRinjani trekking via Sembalun
    Mount Rinjani TrekkingRinjani Senaru Accommodation hotel
    Mount Rinjani Trekking Rinjani trekking 2 days 1 night crater senaru
    Mount Rinjani Trekking Rinjani Trekking 3 days 2 Nights lake via Senaru
    Mount Rinjani Trekking Rinjani Trekking 3 days 2 days summit via senaru
    Mount Rinjani Trekking Rinjani Trekking 4 Days 3 Nights summit via Senaru
    Mount rinjani Trekking Rinjani Trekking 2 Days 1 Night summit via Sembalun
    Mount rinjani Trekking Rinjani Trekking 3 Days 2 nights summit via Sembalun
    Mount Rinjani Trekking Rinjani Trekking 4 Days 3 nights summit via Sembalun

  9. after reading this article inspired many of my . obat aborsi

  10. Interesting information and satisfy certainly can create a page popular, successful greetings
    perfileman Alat bantu wanita.
    perfileman Alat bantu pria.
    jual toys murah
    dildo murah

  11. 점을 보완하여 Cytotec 양자대결이나 라이벌 대결 등으로 사전에 10점을 심사위원 Obat Penggugur 재량으로 줄 수 있는 권한까지 부여하였다. 그러함에도 불구하고 Obat Telat Bulan 실력면에서 상대적으로 월등한 송희진의 3강에서 결승에 오르지 못하자 Obat Cytotec 심사위원들은 멘붕에 빠졌다

  12. Wonderful post. I am searching awesome news and ideas. What I have found from your site, it is actually highly content.

    gargoyle gecko facts



  15. a pride for me to be able to discuss on a quality website because I just learned to make an article on
    obat menggugurkan kandungan

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.