My argument proceeds in four parts. First, I look at the old SOC and the role it played in international law in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This embarrassing piece of international legal history has been forgotten or has remained obscure to many students of international law in the second half of the 20th century. The SOC is, however, a critical protagonist in the universal expansion of international law as part of the development of Westphalian civilization. Second, I explore the evidence that the SOC has returned to shape international law today. The evidence comes in many forms, but my analysis centers on how international law is used today to regulate the State's relationships with the individual, the market, other States, and the international community. A fair reading of the evidence, I believe, shows that international law is being used to transform Westphalian civilization into a liberal, globalized civilization. Third, the rise, fall, and rise of the SOC forces us to ask why the standard has played and is now playing such a prominent role in international law. International lawyers can no longer pretend that the SOC is confined to the museum of international law. The Article analyzes whether the structure of the international system produces a theoretical and practical need for international law to incorporate a SOC. Fourth, I examine the consequences for international relations of the SOC's return. One such consequence is that this return perhaps changes what Stanley Hoffmann called the permanent dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as representative of realism, and Immanuel Kant, as representative of liberalism,6 into a dialogue between Kant and Edmund Burke, as the voice of conservativism. Proposing this new dialogue suggests that the role of the SOC in international law remains subject to debate and controversy.
Fidler, David P.
"The Return of the Standard of Civilization,"
Chicago Journal of International Law:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cjil/vol2/iss1/9