The Changing Process of International Law and the Role of the World Court

Two approaches have emerged in recent American literature as to the appropriate United States attitude toward the World Court: (1) the re-acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction with various reservations to preserve vital American interests; and (2) the preservation of the status quo premised on a perception that the World Court is biased or misguided, while promoting the United States government’s perspective on international law. This article argues that neither approach comes to terms with the wide disagreements about content and process in the international community. Both fail to promote the goals of an enhanced World Court or a better international legal order. The Court’s compulsory jurisdiction cannot be saved by clever draftsmanship. Well-designed reservations offer hope for today’s problem, but the Court’s process innovation and fundamental disagreements about the content of many norms promise further cracks in a legal order facing a crisis of legitimacy.