This Essay is a contribution to a recent symposium at Yale Law School asking whether there is a new New Haven School of International Law. The original New Haven School of International Law offered a significant, process-based, rejoinder to the realism and positivism that had dominated international relations theory in the United States since the close of World War II. Whereas international relations realists viewed international law as merely a product of state power relations, and positivists dismissed international law entirely because it lacked both sovereign commands and a rule of recognition, scholars of the New Haven School studied law as a social process of authoritative decision-making. Such a study necessarily expanded the state-focused perspective of both the realists and positivists by drawing attention to ongoing interactions among variously situated bureaucratic and institutional actors.
Now, in the first decade of the 21st century, the gaze has widened still further, as international law scholars (and those studying law and globalization more generally) increasingly recognize that we inhabit a world of multiple normative communities, some of which impose their norms through officially sanctioned coercive force and formal legal processes, but many of which do not. These norms have varying degrees of impact, of course, but it has become clear that ignoring such normative assertions altogether as somehow not law is not a useful strategy. Accordingly, what we see emerging is an approach to international law drawn from legal pluralism.
As such, this new international law scholarship owes a debt not only to Myers McDougal, Harold Lasswell, Michael Reisman and the other practitioners of the New Haven School, but to another Yale Law School professor whose name is rarely associated with international law: Robert Cover. This Essay discusses Cover's work and its relationship to the New Haven School of International Law, while arguing that Cover's emphasis on norm-generating communities - rather than nation-states - along with his celebration of jurisdictional redundancy provide a useful analytical framework for understanding the plural normative centers that are the focus of much current international law scholarship. Moreover, a pluralist perspective on international law provides a powerful critique to the latest incarnation of realism, now newly dressed up in the trappings of rational choice theory.
32 Yale Journal of International Law 301 (2007)