chapter  7
International legitimacy and the building blocks of the international rule of law JEAN - MARC COICAUD
Pages 14

Introduction The objective of this chapter is simple. It is to show what the building blocks of the international rule of law are today. In order to achieve this objective, we examine the elements that enter into the international rule of law via the composition and dynamics of international legitimacy. There is indeed a key connection between the international rule of law and international legitimacy. This is the case because legitimacy is a significant aspect of the rule of law, both nationally and internationally.1 For rule of law, at the international level as at the national one, is meant to coincidently express and convey the sense of legitimacy of the actors and the institutions of the system, and the actions and policies they conduct in it. The fact that international legitimacy is, for example, about distinguishing in the international system between legitimate and illegitimate actors as well as between legitimate and illegitimate behaviours and, therefore, between what is part and parcel of the international rule of law and what is not, helps make this point. Against this background, the chapter examines five elements that play a central role in international legitimacy and constitute as such (although they are more often than not overlooked, or taken for granted) key elements of the international rule of law. They are: international community membership, right holding, hierarchy of right holders, rightful conduct and international authority. We conclude the chapter with a number of questions that the changes underway in the international distribution of power introduce concerning the thinking and the practice of the international rule of law and its evolution in the years ahead.2