For more than fifty years, the United States and Britain stood as two of the great defenders of international law. In 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt drafted the Atlantic Charter, a vision of a future world order based on limiting the use of military force which served as the inspiration for the grounding principles of the United Nations. In the waning days of the Second World War, the two countries energetically supported the creation of the world’s first international criminal tribunal, to punish Nazi aggression and atrocities. More recently, the US pushed strongly to establish international tribunals to try war criminals from the Balkans and Rwanda, backing these courts with substantial financial and logistical support. And if the Clinton Administration never entirely overcame its suspicions of the International Criminal Court, it nevertheless signed on to the tribunal’s enabling statute.
Yet since the events of September 11, 2001, the US and Britain have largely assumed a different stance towards global rules. In Philippe Sands’s provocative formulation, the United States under George W. Bush has engaged in nothing short of a “war on law”. Britain, meanwhile, has weakly turned into a “handmaiden to some of the worst violations of international law”.
more from the TLS here.