Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law
"The Thin Justice of International Law"
Monday, January 28, 2013
Cosponsored with the Center for Civil and Human Rights
In a world suffused with conflict and human misery, global justice remains one of the most compelling missions of our time. Although philosophers of global justice have often stayed clear of legal institutions, international law plays a critical role in understanding the prospects for global justice. The core rules of international law—even if they came about as a result of power politics and historical contingencies—have their own morality and represent a real-world incarnation of a vision of global justice. That ethical vision is one that I term "thin" justice. While not as "thick" as the justice we might minimally expect for domestic policies, nor the limit of justice for which we should strive in the international realm, it is justice deserving of the name and consistent with a cosmopolitan vision of the world. After explaining my notion of thin justice, I will use self-determination as an example of a core international law that meets the standard of thin justice.
Steven R. Ratner is the Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. His teaching and research focus on public international law and on a range of challenges facing governments and international institutions since the Cold War, including ethnic conflict, border disputes, counter-terrorism strategies, corporate and state duties regarding foreign investment, and accountability for human rights violations. Ratner has written and lectured extensively on the law of war, and is also interested in the intersection of international law and moral philosophy and other theoretical issues. Since 2009, he has served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law. Ratner holds a JD from Yale University, an MA (diplôme) from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales (Geneva), and an AB from Princeton University.