The Role of Legal Advisers in Ensuring that Foreign Policy Conforms to International Legal Standards

With the help of a research team, the author spoke to the people most responsible for using-or ignoring-international law today: present and former foreign ministers and their chief legal advisers, hereafter referred to as LAs. From them, he hoped to get direct and first-hand evidence on the role played by international law in today’s political arena. By sounding them out as thoroughly as the author and team of researchers did, it is now possible to shed some light on the role played by law and lawyers in foreign affairs. Part I of this essay will describe the role Legal Advisers’ play in foreign policy-making and the institutional structure under which they operate. Part II will explain how international law influences the extent foreign ministers will heed the LAs’ advice and how Las, in turn, are able to influence the evolution of international law. In Part III, the author will summarize what was learned in the interviews. Finally, Part IV will offer some suggestions for enhancing the role of international law in developing foreign policy.