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Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law




International law (IL) and international relations (IR) have long been considered separate academic enterprises, with their own theoretical orientations, methodologies, and publishing outlets.

The net effect has been that the insights and research findings of one discipline have largely been unknown or ignored in the other. This has occurred despite the commonality of focusing on many of the same substantive interests, namely international cooperation in general, issues of war and peace, environmental regulation, and trade. This has led to numerous calls over the past two decades to bridge the international law and international relations divide. Yet one recent work claims that the frequency of such appeals have exceeded the number of efforts to fulfill those suggestions. Others have claimed that "there are large and growing intersections between the fields." How much progress has been made in the last two decades toward bridging the gap between international law and international relations? Various claims have been made, but little systematic evidence has been produced. In particular, the evidence offered has not necessarily been able to document the form and depth of the international relations-international law interface.

This study examines the progress, or perhaps the lack thereof, made over the last twenty years in bringing together the disciplines of international law and international relations. In doing so, we survey two leading journals in international law and five prominent journals in international relations over the period 1990-2010, searching for cross-pollination of ideas and approaches. We also examine an interdisciplinary journal, the primary purpose of which has been to facilitate collaboration across the two disciplines. When considering the international law journals, we look at the extent to which social science methods and objectives, as well as international relations subject matter, have been reflected in the articles. In international relations journals, we consider whether international law has become a subject matter of scholarly inquiry, given that it was largely ignored for many years. The goal is to track over time the intersection of the two disciplines and describe the extent and type of their interaction.

We begin with a discussion of how the two disciplines became separated after an early period of convergence, explain the fundamental bases that led to the divide, and characterize their contemporary differences. We then examine the various pleas for integration and how these might be accomplished. We note some recent trends toward reconciliation between IL and IR. These sections serve as a prelude to our empirical analysis of published articles, where we describe our choice of journals and the dimensions of analysis. We present our findings on whether and by how much the gap between international law and international relations has been bridged. This includes an overview of the international law articles studied, specific analyses of law and political science journals respectively, and a consideration of an interdisciplinary journal. Finally, we summarize our findings and discuss their implications for the future of IL-IR research.

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University of Georgia School of Law

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