Foundations of World Order

The Legalist Approach to International Relations, 1898–1922

Foundations of World Order

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: Published: July 1999

History > U.S. History, Law > Legal History, Politics > Political Science

In Foundations of World Order Francis Anthony Boyle provides the first historically comprehensive analysis of U.S. foreign policy regarding international law and organizations. Examining the period from the Spanish American War to the establishment of the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice, Boyle argues that the international legal framework created at the beginning of the twentieth century not only influenced the course of American foreign policy but also provided the foundation upon which relations among states were built.
Although both the League of Nations and the Permanent Court of International Justice were rejected by the U.S. Senate, Boyle shows how the early governance of these institutions—precursors, respectively, to the United Nations and the International Court of Justice—informed later efforts to reduce and regulate transnational threats and the use of military force. Delving into such topics as the United States and its initial stance of neutrality in World War I and its imperial policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean, Boyle offers detailed readings of the relevant treaties, tribunals, and conferences, and assesses the political actors involved. Taking up the legalist point of view, he discusses the codification of customary international law, the obligatory arbitration of international disputes, and the creation of a new regime for the settlement of such disputes.
Boyle has provided in Foundations of World Order a compelling portrait of the relationship between political power and law, and of the impact of these forces on U.S. diplomacy. This volume will serve as a valuable resource to students, scholars, and practitioners of international law; it will also be of great interest to historians and political scientists engaged with issues of U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic history.


Foundations of World Order provides a good summary and explanation . . . . [C]lear and concise discussion of the relevant international agreements and their technical legal machinery. . . . Foundations of World Order is a helpful addition to this continuing dialogue between international law and politics.” — , Yale Journal of International Law

Foundations of World Order provides an excellent and balanced analysis of U.S. foreign policy . . . . Boyle’s analysis is notable for its fair appraisal of both the achievements and failures of U.S. foreign policy during the era. . . . The book’s persuasiveness is partially due to its clear and instructive organization. . . . One of the book’s major virtues is its balanced admiration and critique for U.S. foreign policy. . . . Boyle’s presentation, which consistently references both earlier and subsequent periods, allows the reader to see clearly how the foundational period influenced later efforts to promote peaceable resolutions to international conflicts.” — Pratheepan Gulasekaram , Stanford Journal of International Law

Foundations of World Order. . . should be required reading for historians, political scientists, international relations specialists, and policy-makers. It not only illuminates the long-forgotten origins of international practices and institutions. . . but also offers a revisionist reading of a decisive, singular era in US foreign relations.” — Eileen Scully , International History Review

“[A] passionate defense of legalism in Foundations of World Order. . . . Boyle makes a strong argument . . . . Boyle’s Foundations of World Order provides firm grounding in legalist history, norms, and persuasive power.” — Lisa Lynch , NYU Journal of International Law and Politics

“[A]n intricate and comprehensive . . . saga of American foreign policy.” — Sanford R. Silverburg , Law and Politics Book Review

“[Boyle’s] thesis is bold; he revisits much currently accepted thought on the causes and consequences of twentieth-century conflicts. For Boyle the cause is clear—the failure to accord international law its due place—and he seems to dare the reader to prove otherwise.” — Andrew Olson , Perspectives on Political Science

“For those who think that the legalist approach to international relations began and ended with Woodrow Wilson, this book will be a surprise. . . . [It] tells a fascinating story of law and institutional innovation. . . . ” — , Foreign Affairs

“Highly informative and interesting. Boyle puts the different policy initiatives under the general ‘legalist’ framework, and he makes sense of this period in the history of U.S. international relations.” — John Quigley, author of The Ruses for War: American Interventionism since World War II

“Specialists in the field of American diplomatic history and the jurisprudence of international law should welcome this work. There is no other that covers the same ground.” — Alfred P. Rubin, author of Ethics and Authority in International Law


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Francis Anthony Boyle is Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois. A highly visible actor in the international arena, he has served as legal advisor to the Palestinian Delegates in the Middle East peace negotiations, as well as to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. Boyle is the author of numerous books, including The Bosnian People Charge Genocide and World Politics and International Law, also published by Duke University Press.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2364-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2327-3
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