Security and International Law

Authored by: Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies

Print publication date:  January  2010
Online publication date:  January  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415484374
eBook ISBN: 9780203859483
Adobe ISBN: 9781135166205


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The events of the present decade have revealed international law to be an ambiguous force with respect to the distribution of security in global governance. Despite intensive legislative efforts on national, regional, and international levels to ensure greater environmental security, the effectiveness of the international environmental law regime, such as that of the 1997 Kyoto protocol, remains acutely vulnerable to the political priorities of nation states. The liberalization of world trade agreements and the codification of patents within the intellectual property law regime have had highly adverse effects on food security for communities in the Global South. The celebrated codification of women’s international human rights has sometimes meant that women’s advocates on the ground have been attacked as emissaries of the West and traitors to their own culture. The string of humanitarian interventions that culminated with the 2003 invasion of Iraq showed us that the relationship between what is legal and what is legitimate under international law remains convoluted, and that political appropriations of human rights discourses have pervasive and serious ramifications for the well-being of individuals and communities. After 9/11, international legal frameworks have been essential and controversial elements of national and regional ‘anti-terror’ strategies.

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