In This Review

Fairness in International Law and Institutions
Fairness in International Law and Institutions
By Thomas M. Franck
Oxford University Press, 1996, 500 pp

This ambitious work begins with the premise that international law no longer has to defend its existence but can now make substantive progress, particularly on the matter of fairness. This the author does rather comprehensively, looking at the fairness of international law on the issues of self-determination, just and unjust wars, collective security, environmental norms, and international trade and investment. While the effort to move beyond procedural rules and to ground international law in a substantive fairness doctrine is laudable, its feasibility is questionable. Franck puts stock in the emergence of a world community with shared norms underpinning the burgeoning body of international law, but the reality in many nation-states is the breakdown of consensus on basic principles of distributive justice, with no solution other than liberal proceduralism in sight.