In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The United States and International Law

  • Introduction
  • A US Vision of International Law Characterized by Realism, Functionalism, and Interdisciplinarity

International Law The United States and International Law
Lucie Delabie
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 October 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199796953-0251


This bibliography proposes a range of references relating to the US attitude toward international law, including practical and doctrinal approaches prevailing in the United States regarding international legal norms. It aims to highlight the singularity of an American vision of international law, as viewed through a European lens, on different topics including collective security and recourse to force, economic matters, environmental challenges, and human rights protection. The bibliography includes a historical dimension, highlighting the emergence of an American tradition of international law going back to the eighteenth century, based on realism and pragmatism. Exploring the methods and points of view developed by American scholars reveals that they are mostly interested in the concrete aspects of international law, which leads to an instrumental vision of legal norms. Such a unified vision of international law in the United States does not conceal the diversity of views within the American international scholarship, as exemplified by the existence of different doctrinal “schools” or “movements” (the New Haven school, the new approaches to international law, the international legal process, the law and economics movement, the transnational process movement, and so on). The reader will find citations relating to these movements and, more generally, to American international scholarship. But this does not preclude the interest for the American practice of international law, which is deeply linked with the theoretical and methodological approach of international law in the United States, as revealed in citations under the last heading of this bibliography.

General Overviews

These overviews are split into two different sections revealing the characteristics of a properly US tradition of international law: the first section outlines the historical roots of international law in the United States (at the doctrinal and practical levels) based on liberalism and pragmatism; the second one outlines interactions between US legal and political order and international law, as being part of the singularity of the American approach of international law.

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