International lawyers and policy makers have had much to cause them to despair in recent times: war, conflict and social upheaval in the Middle East and Africa; economic, political and social crises in Europe; territorial conflicts in the South China Sea; and challenges to fundamental legal standards (such as the prohibition of torture) from States that have been the traditional defenders of the post-war international legal order. Such crises and conflicts pose multiple challenges for, and to, international legal regulation. And yet, notwithstanding the obvious grounds for despair, various counter-developments (in the context of maritime disputes, human rights and trade) suggest that the prognosis for international legal regulation is not as dire as these examples might initially suggest. Although ongoing social, economic, political and legal interactions continue to throw up new conflicts and challenges, a range of different actors have deployed international law and legal institutions in innovative ways in response. Some of the international legal responses have been unexpected and in some cases surprising. International law’s fragmented legal norms and institutions, long the source of anxiety, have provided novel and creative opportunities to avoid global disorder and lawlessness. International adjudication, offering opportunities for disparate voices to be heard and allowing for the imaginative use of traditional techniques, may be a cause for hope.