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How can fair cooperation and a stable peace be reached in the international realm? Peace, Justice and International Order discusses this question in the light of John Rawls' The Law of Peoples, offers a new approach to Rawls' international theory and contributes to the discourse on international peace and justice.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
The international state system has lately undergone a huge development having to meet great changes and challenges. Two world wars in less than 50 years, in particular the cruelties of World War II and their dimensions, gave impetus to quick and enormous changes: the development of an extensive human rights regime, normative limitations to the legitimacy of warfare and the establishment of the United Nations (Martin and Reidy 2006, 3). The decline of colonialism and the end of the Cold War reshaped the international state system and power schemes. Globalization brought the world closer together, establishing new ways of communication and cooperation, but also new dangers and challenges, calling into question the autonomy of states or even their raison d’être. ‘One of the greatest challenges posed by this new international order has been that of providing appropriate standards of justice for this emerging system’ (Martin and Reidy 2006, 3). John Rawls contributed to this search, in 1993 with his Amnesty Lecture and then in 1999 with the homonymous monograph The Law of Peoples (LP).
Annette Förster

2. Practical Relevance of a Realistic Utopia

Abstract
According to Rawls, the international order would be more peaceful, more stable and more just if there were only liberal democratic societies; however, he also says this is unrealistic and there are other forms of society that deserve respect and can be added to the zone of peace that democracies have established between themselves. Calling his theory a ‘realistic utopia’ shows that Rawls thinks both within and beyond theoretical boundaries, here by linking ideal theory to real world circumstances.
Annette Förster

3. Why Peoples, Not States: Why States, Not Peoples?

Abstract
When referring to states, Rawls uses different terms, each having an own, partly stipulated, meaning; a fact which often leads to confusion between the different types of states in LP and the positive and negative characteristics ascribed to them. Rawls uses idiosyncratic definitions of the terms ‘peoples’ and ‘states’ to assign distinct characteristics to different regimes. Rawls’ definition of the terms ‘people’ (and ‘state’) is hard to grasp. Clearly, Rawlsian states and peoples are distinct, if not opposite, terms. Treating both as one and the same, as for example Allen Buchanan (2000, 699) does, would miss Rawls’ ambition to differentiate himself from traditional thinking and to emphasize the special character of peoples in contrast to ‘states as traditionally conceived’. To put it very simply: ‘peoples’ to Rawls are ‘states as they should be’, in a normative sense, whereas Rawlsian ‘states’ are ‘states as they should not be’. ‘Society’ is used as a general term and may refer either to one of his five types of political regimes (well-ordered or non-well-ordered) — like the use of ‘regime’ on certain occasions — or to society as a constituent of a state, the sum of its members and the community they constitute.
Annette Förster

4. A Typology of Political Regimes

Abstract
As indicated earlier, Rawls introduces five types of political regime, distinguished according to liberal-democratic ideas (Herrera 2005, 337) of political participation, the recognition of (basic) human rights and non-aggressiveness towards other regimes. The last point is not (genuinely) liberal democratic. The global political landscape is divided into the five categories: (1) liberal peoples, (2) decent peoples, (3) benevolent absolutistic societies, (4) burdened societies and (5) outlaw states, though there is room for other types of regime, two of which are introduced later in this chapter.
Annette Förster

5. International Justice and the Principles of the Law of Peoples

Abstract
Peaceful international cooperation between liberal and decent societies is in need of an overlapping consensus, an appropriate set of principles according to which relations between societies can be organized in as peaceful, stable and just manner as possible. The principles of the Law of Peoples are the general and basic norms of political justice that regulate the relations between peoples and non-well-ordered regimes, and they ‘can and should be accepted’ by peoples (LP, VI, 3, 35, 37). They form the ‘Charter of the Society of Peoples’ (LP, 85, see also Beitz 2000, 673).
Annette Förster

6. The Society of Peoples: A Union of Well-Ordered Societies?

Abstract
Rawls uses the term ‘Society of Peoples’ more than a hundred times in his monograph without providing a detailed account of what it might look in practice. As Rawls leaves this question more or less open, it could be argued that a clearer sketch of the Society of Peoples is not essential for understanding his theory. It may be merely a way to refer to ‘all those peoples who follow the ideals and principles of the Law of Peoples in their mutual relations’ (LP, 3). So why is it worth pursuing this matter? In fact, the Society of Peoples within Rawls’ theory serves as a focus for the establishment of peaceful, stable and just relations between peoples, uniting well-ordered societies under the Law of Peoples. It is therefore crucial to his project. The Society of Peoples may constitute an international institution promoting peace, justice and stability in the international order. It might be an instantiation of Kant’s pacific union, only that it covers liberal and decent regimes rather than republics, extending to more and more regimes over time, thus enlarging the zone of peace. Even beyond LP, the sketch of a Society of Peoples links to a broader discussion on the legitimacy and performance of international institutions and the United Nations (UN) and of whether further institutions are needed, especially referring to the League of Democracies.
Annette Förster

7. Decent Peoples and the Real World

Abstract
The question of whether or not states that correspond to Rawls’ concept of peoples actually exist is essential to LP, especially where decent societies are concerned, as they seem to be mere constructions and Rawls does not satisfactorily answer the question of whether peoples exist beyond ideal theory. If there are no existing or historical decent societies, they might be invented to justify imposing liberal principles, the principles of the Law of Peoples, on non-liberal regimes. If decent societies lacked counterparts in the real world, Rawls’ justification for imposing the principles of the Law of Peoples on other societies would be pointless. They would remain liberal principles that are only honoured by liberal democratic societies and imposing them on other regimes would constitute a form of liberal imperialism, which Rawls in LP aims to avoid and which, from a Rawlsian perspective, constitutes a violation of liberal principles, foremost the principle of reasonable pluralism. Furthermore, the identification especially of decent regimes would enhance the applicability of LP to international relations and therefore the potential to be helpful for improving real world conditions. It might be an appealing model for liberal regimes to improve their relations with states qualifying as decent, not only as they are suitable cooperation partners, but also to enhance international stability and justice and to advance peaceful relations.
Annette Förster

8. Decent Peace in The Law of Peoples and Beyond

Abstract
The democratic peace thesis claims that democracies do not wage war against one another. If the democratic peace thesis holds true, and if all societies were democratic, a stable peace would be a reality. Kant’s dream of eternal peace beyond the ‘peace of the graveyard’, the extinction of humanity, or a world state, would come true. With the claim of democracies and decent societies not waging war against one another, Rawls goes beyond the democratic peace thesis: there are other types of regimes, decent societies, which are part of the zone of peace and need to be respected due to the principle of reasonable pluralism. Rawls argues that decent societies also respect peoples of like character, that is to say liberal and decent regimes, and live in peace with them within the Society of Peoples. As a consequence, Rawls would have to assume that there is something like a ‘decent peace’ — as liberal peoples meet the criteria for decency as well: liberal and decent peoples do not wage war against one another. If all societies were either liberal or decent, perpetual peace might be reached.
Annette Förster

9. Peace, Justice and International Order: A Conclusion

Abstract
With The Law of Peoples, Rawls has contributed to the discussion not only on the moral status of the diverse types of political regimes, but also to their foreign relations as they should be to enhance stable peace and justice in the international order. The project at hand hopes to have contributed to that debate by exploring, analysing, testing, defending and critiquing LP from within and beyond the Rawlsian framework. Recalling the course of this undertaking, Rawls’ ideal theorizing and his realistic utopian framework has been positioned within Rawls’ work and in relation to the real world. A profound analysis of central aspects of LP and Rawls’ terminology, specifically, the differentiation between peoples and states, as well as his typology of political regimes, functioned as a baseline for understanding and discussing LP. The applicability and value of Rawls’ theory to and for international relations were assessed. The problems and contributions of the principles of the Law of Peoples and the Society of Peoples were investigated. It was explored whether at least aspiring decent peoples exist, and discussed whether the democratic peace thesis could be enlarged to a decent peace thesis.
Annette Förster

Backmatter

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