This volume has been compiled at a time when international law is facing many difficulties. To put it more dramatically, it can be said that this book has been compiled in a time of crisis. This claim does not simply relate to the current context of the year 2020, when this volume was first published (i.e., in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic).
This volume was originally published based on three feature articles presented in the September issues of Hōritsu jihō (Law Journal) between 2017 and 2019, along with a few new articles added later. The special features in this book include "The Present State of International Legislation," "The Present State of International Criminal Law," and "Legal Dynamics in the International Economic Order."
This volume is not intended to cover every detail of all fields related to international law. Rather, it narrows its focus and discusses the ambitious parts of current international law as well as the concerns arising therefrom. The volume, furthermore, highlights the attempt to open up a new horizon and its related challenges with respect to international law. Thus, this volume aims to examine the basic characteristics that underlie the state of law in the international community. Obviously, both "international legislation" concerning the process of law creation and formation and "international criminal regulation" concerning the process of law realization are fundamentally the utopia which cannot be achieved in a decentralized international society. Although we are in the midst of globalization, which transcends national borders and connects various regions of the world, we are still unable to perceive the prospect of an international economic community devoid of division. In fact, globalization itself can be a symbol of division. The authors of this volume therefore discuss, in a variety of ways, the potential of law in such a situation, relying on the concepts such as "turning points," "contradictions," "challenges," and "sprouting."
Ambition and its associated difficulties are particularly evident in relevant international organizations. The law, on one hand, is a type of “technology” for conscioussocial control. On the other hand, however, through the exercise of such social technology, the law has become a structural feature of society itself, thereby offering an opportunity for society to organize itself. It is a natural consequence then that the International Law Commission, which makes people aware of the law, as well as the International Criminal Court and World Trade Organization, both of which are highly organized and legalized, form the main subjects of discussion in this book. In addition, the glory of each organization when it was created, along with the concerns and challenges that each organization faces today, clearly define the "present state of international law."
As this volume is based on the articles that have been published in an academic monthly journal, the discussions there were by its nature an attempt to depict the "present." As with any other media, it is undeniable that the details of the information become outdated over time. However, the attempts at presenting the current period, particularly in the face of circumstances of the time (i.e., the late 2010s and 2020), as well as the perspectives underlying the articles in this volume, may be common to all ages. Therefore, the views presented in this volume will support wisdom that could be useful for the development of academic pursuits over a long period of time. This volume has been compiled in the interest of these ambitions, difficulties, and concerns regarding the potential of law in the international community. We hope, therefore, that many readers will be encouraged to participate in such discussions, inspired by the thoughtful and diverse perspectives present in this book.
(Written by TERAYA Koji and ITO Kazuyori, Professors, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics / 2021)