This volume argues that a wide range of policies in the international system today – economic sanctions, military intervention, and counter terrorism policy – are part of a ‘punitive ethos’ that has arisen since the end of the Cold War. While that ethos is linked to the protection of human rights and the promotion of international liberalism, it violates standards of justice that it should otherwise be protecting.
The book is premised on the assumption that while punishment in principle is justifiable, the ways it is being meted out in the current international order are not just. It draws on cases in which members of the international system seek to protect human rights and uphold international law by imposing punishments on those who violate the shared international norms. But while these punitive practices are designed to create a just international order, they tend to be unjust in practice. For Anthony Lang, these unjust punishments result from conceptual confusions about agency, responsibility, legitimacy, and authority. He thus identifies a dilemma in the current international system: attempts to promote human rights and international law through punishment are creating an unjust global order.
Punishment, Justice and International Relations will be of much interest to students of international ethics, security and international relations in general.