Chapter 3. The international system


Globalization operates on Internet time.

  Kofi Annan
Table of Contents
3.1. International law and international relations
3.1.1. International law
3.1.2. International relations
3.2. Actors in international law
3.2.1. Governments
3.2.2. The private sector
3.2.3. Civil society
3.2.4. New medievalism
3.3. Sources of international law
3.3.1. Hard law
3.3.2. Soft law
3.3.3. Private law
3.4. Limitations of international law
3.4.1. The legitimacy of authority
3.4.2. Jurisdiction
3.4.3. Universality
3.5. Internet governance as law

In the course of the preceding chapter, an overview was given of a number of international legal instruments bearing on public policy governance of the Internet, and of some of the institutions responsible for their development. This chapter takes a step back from those details to look at the underlying issues of what international law is, where it comes from, and the extent to which civil society in particular—that is, people organised into non-commercial social groups other than states—has a role to play in developing it, particularly through governance networks such as the IGF.

The importance of this is that if Internet governance is to be exercised by networks as the previous chapter has suggested, the status of those networks in the international legal system will determine whether their actions are likely on the one hand to be accepted, or on the other to be undermined (or simply ignored) by states. Although the geographical nexus that characterises governance through rules by states may on some accounts be anachronistic and largely irrelevant to life in cyberspace,[1] even citizens of cyberspace still hold dual citizenship with the state in which they are physically located. Those states will be more likely to honour the actions of networks of Internet governance if those actions can somehow claim legitimacy in the international legal system.



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