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Law Department

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Research Article

Publication Title

The Indonesian Journal of International and Comparative Law

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Public International Law (PIL) is portrayed as an autonomous and tolerably just legal system. A determinable system of rules and principles, deployed by professionals to evaluate and constrain the global machinations of power politics. Law as an authoritative structure through which global justice can be pursued. This entrenches a comforting, but false, progress narrative; and obscures the limitations of pursuing progressive change through international law. PIL is structured by false necessity and false contingency. These interact to create the Deceptive Dyad, which disguises the radical indeterminacy of PIL. PIL’s purported demands, however meticulously crafted, do not effect change in the real world. Emancipatory change at the global level faces systemic obstructions. These obstructions, and the implausibility of PIL overcoming them, reveal a global normative architecture bifurcated between two competing systems: PIL and the Global Legal Order (GLO).

The GLO, possesses coercive authority, and deploys it in a legal-rational manner. Characterised by its capacity to enforce its will and the widespread obedience this commands, it imposes a coherent set of policies in a consistent manner, producing identifiable legal norms. PIL mimics the rituals of law, but lacks the capacity to enforce its demands. The two systems function to define and correct “delinquents”, but they do so in incompatible ways. The GLO’s coercively imposed policy prescriptions immiserate populations, culminating in “human rights abuses”. The suppression of delinquency by the GLO produces delinquency in PIL. The two systems work in tandem, regulating and disguising our neocolonial present: producing and condemning human rights abuses.

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