The book investigates to what extent great powers can change fundamental norms of international society. It challenges the realist proposition that international norms are nothing more than the instruments of great powers. Based on English School theory combined with constructivism, the book argues that norm change is not a material process based on power and might, but rather a social process based on legitimacy and right.
To test the theoretical argument, the book analyzes two norm challenges posed by President Bush on international society’s most fundamental norm, the norm on non-use of force. Both norm challenges aimed to extend the right of self-defense and were used to justify the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. Comparing state reactions to these two norm challenges, the analyses show that the first norm challenge succeeded while the second failed. For great powers to change norms, the norm change must be considered legitimate by the states of international society.
The book is relevant for all those interested in international norms and norm change; the theory and methodology of the English School, international law on the use of force; the ’war on terror’ and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Udgivet november 2011
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