Crafting the Nuclear World Order (1950-1975): The Dynamics of Legal Change in the Field of Nuclear Nonproliferation

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This paper opens the analysis of treaties in the security field to sociological and hermeneutic analyses of international lawmaking practices. In a legal world where tensions exist between legal regimes, it claims that the interpretive quality of past treaties determines which legal rules survive and which ones disappear when new treaties with overlapping jurisdiction are introduced. The article demonstrates this thesis by using the dynamics of legal change in the field of nuclear proliferation from 1950 to 1975. It first shows that instrumentalist theories of international law, which see in some aspects of the nonproliferation regime (a) attempts by strong states to freeze the status quo, and (b) attempts by all state parties to solve coordination and cooperation problems, fail to explain how the global nonproliferation regime was articulated with prior regional regimes, in particular, the transatlantic regime. To explain why discrepancies existed between the two regimes, and why certain rules evaporated, while others survived the paradigm shift, this paper then moves to filed and hermeneutic theories of institutional law. It shows that only by paying attention to the interpretive quality of the contitutive treaties of each regime (whether they are clear, ambiguous, or opaque), can one explain the evolution of the nonproliferation regimes.

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  • 01/02/2019
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