Prof. Jeremy Walrdon, is University Professor and Professor of Law, New York University Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford
He presented 2011 Charles E. Test Lectures at Princeton University on A Religious View of the Foundations of International Law
The full text of all three lectures below can be downloaded here.
Lecture 1: THE CRISIS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE STRICTURES OF PUBLIC REASON
Abstract: Over the last ten years there has been something of a crisis in American confidence in, and support for, international law. As the idea of order and justice in the international realm is considered and rationalized from various perspectives, it seems appropriate to consider also how it might be regarded from the viewpoint of the world’s leading religions. This lecture will begin the task of considering law beyond the state from a specifically Christian point of view, mapping Christian ideas of peace, community, redemption, and the task of ordering a disordered world onto the kinds of global structures that were imaginable in the first century CE and that are imaginable today. But it will also consider the difficulties of sustaining a viewpoint of this kind in a multi-faith and indeed increasingly secular world.
Lecture 2: SOVEREIGNS, BORDERS, AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WORLD
Abstract: The ideas of nationhood and sovereignty are both central to and troubling for international
law. But the basis for the division of the world into separate political communities (nation-states) remains controversial. And clearly a religious approach to order in the international realm will endorse the position of most modern international jurists that sovereign independence is not to be made into an idol or a fetish, and that the tasks of order and peace are not to be conceived as optional, which sovereigns may or may not support at their pleasure. At the same time, sovereigns have their own mission in world, ordering particular communities of men and women; and this task, too, should not be slighted. Something similar can be said about ideals of national self- determination. Though Christian commitments are not at odds with the idea of a people taking responsibility for order in their own community, it ought to be highly suspicious of any form of exclusive nationalism, particularly in light of what may be read as the fundamental cosmopolitanism of the New Testament.
Lecture 3: THE SOURCES OF ORDER: WHY NATURAL LAW IS NOT ENOUGH
Abstract: It is sometimes thought that a religious view of international law will argue for natural law as a primary basis of international order. Natural law is no doubt important in any Christian jurisprudence. But the most telling part of natural law jurisprudence from Aquinas to Finnis has always been its insistence on the specific human need for positive law. This holds true in the international realm as much as in any realm of human order—perhaps more so, because in the international realm law has to do its work unsupported by the overwhelming power of a particular state. So this final lecture will address, from a religious point of view, the sources of law in the international realm: treaty, convention, custom, precedent, and jurisprudence. It will focus particularly on the sanctification of treaties. Though parchments and institutions are not the final word in human affairs, they are our best hope for peace and justice in the meantime that is given us to order our affairs.