UC Irvine Journal of International, Transnational, and Comparative Law


A dozen years ago, Jeremy Waldron published an influential article arguing that sovereign states are not entitled to the benefits of the international rule of law. His conclusion follows from his assertions that the purpose of the rule of law is to protect individual liberty, and the purpose of international law is to protect individuals. This article critically responds to his position. International law is based on the notion that states are autonomous and equal members of the international society ordered through legal relations. The legal relations of the international community of states, I argue, constitute the horizontal dimension of the rule of law, which Waldron overlooked. Focusing on horizontal rule of law functions, I provide descriptive, theoretical, and normative reasons why states are, and should be, entitled to the benefits of the rule of law.