The Historical Trajectory of International Punishment

  • Harry D. Gould


As was briefly alluded to in the preceding chapter, Realist IR theorists have tended to characterize IR as having essentially always been a self-help system in which states use force to promote, defend, or vindicate their own interests; we need not read it as always having been that way. Alongside the self-interested, self-help ethos and its attendant practices, a punitive ethos operated for a period of centuries. Unlike the self-help regime—and it is indeed a congeries of rules —that requires only more-or-less like units in interaction, the punitive ethos was predicated upon a very specific legal-normative context. The practice, however, went through a series of transformations before eventually being rejected. International punishment, as both idea and practice, evolved in a context unlike that of the current international system, and as we will see in the coming sections, each move from that context toward our own undermined the legitimacy of invoking punishment as a grounds for the just use of force.


Historical Trajectory Fundamental Rule Injured Party Nonstate Actor Sovereign Equality 
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© Harry D. Gould 2010

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