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University of Baltimore Journal of International Law

Abstract

Following the interwar period and disastrous results of an isolationist foreign policy, the United States changed course coming out of the Second World War. Assuming the global leadership role, the U.S. led the international effort to design and build the international institutions and organizations that would ensure and manage the global recovery from the war that ravaged the world’s economy, deter future wars by providing checks on and a balance of power, and that would ensure, to some degree, international systems based on rule of law. Pursuit of U.S. interests should, when possible, be carried out within that international legal framework. The U.S. should conform its actions to international legal norms, so long as it does not create a substantial departure from pursuit of national interests. In considering ratification of conventions and treaties in areas of security and human rights, the U.S. should consider whether ceding sovereignty to unelected committees charged with monitoring U.S. compliance with the terms of those agreements is in U.S. interests. On the other hand, ceding sovereignty as a result of continued global leadership in the international economic institutions built by the U.S. and its allies may actually weigh in favor of U.S. interests. Finally, diverging from traditional international rules when dealing with contemporary challenges may also be in U.S. interests, particularly when adhering to values concerning the rule of law that respects human rights. To that end, the U.S. should consider, with partners when possible, the evolvement of new norms through action. Justification based on legitimacy is a valid interest. The U.S. should also rely on national institutions in managing the conflict between national interests and international cooperation, but always with the awareness of national interests.

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