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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: June 2012

2 - The US pursuit of legal security through the evolution of the international law of dispute resolution


For centuries nations have struggled among each other. But we dream of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason. And we will try to make it so.

Lyndon Johnson, 1965

Critical to the US pursuit of legal security has been its involvement with the evolution of what could be referred to as systemic regimes of international law – those relating to the making and enforcement of, and the resolution of disputes in, international law – in an attempt to ensure that the principles, rules, and concepts that constitute those regimes facilitate the US pursuit of legal security. It is arguable that US engagement with the development of codified legal regimes addressing systemic elements of international law tells us more about the US attitude to international law per se than do its actions in relation to specific subject areas addressed by international law, such as human rights, in which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the nature of the US attitude towards international law from US policy in the particular issue area. This chapter is devoted to the nature of US engagement with the evolution of the law pertaining to dispute resolution in public international law. It will trace US participation in the evolution of treaty law relating to third-party dispute resolution, from its earliest involvement in international arbitration to its more recent stance regarding a permanent international court and a legalized process of third-party dispute resolution in the World Trade Organization (WTO), to reveal a remarkable degree of consistency.

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