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The New Terrain of International LawCourts, Politics, Rights$
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Karen J. Alter

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154749

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154749.001.0001

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International Courts Altering Politics

International Courts Altering Politics

(p.32) Chapter 2 International Courts Altering Politics
The New Terrain of International Law

Karen J. Alter

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses how governments use law to regulate the behavior of citizens. Powerful actors with the ability to influence government policy making can rule by law, using the legislative process and government support to promote their priorities. For individuals and groups who do not find government doors wide open, litigation can be a political means to overturn the decisions of governments. Individuals living in authoritarian countries and in countries with weak rule of law institutions generally invoke international law to circumvent blockages created by domestic institutions that are captured by governments. International law is an attractive political resource because governments do not control it. And while international courts are surely political actors, they are legal institutions comprised of judges from multiple countries with a formal mandate to apply the law.

Keywords:   international law, international courts, rule of law, authoritarian countries, legislative process, governments, political actors

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