Justice, international

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S033-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 21, 2021, from

1. The scope of international justice

In its most literal sense, ‘international justice’ refers to justice between nations – ‘nations’ in this context being equivalent to ‘states’, as in ‘international law’, ‘national sovereignty’, and so on. Following common usage in political philosophy, it will here be understood in a more extended sense. In this sense, ‘international justice’ refers to justice in any context other than that of the purely internal affairs of a state.

It is possible that an inquiry into international justice will yield the conclusion that justice can be predicated properly only of relations between states. But formulating the scope of the inquiry in this way leaves open a variety of other possibilities. Thus, for example, it may be concluded that states have obligations of justice to individuals outside their borders (for example, to give asylum), that individuals have obligations of justice to states other than their own (for example, not to engage in terrorism), and that international organizations, transnational corporations and collective actors other than states have obligations of justice that should constrain their behaviour. The conclusion may also be that a world organized into states is inherently incapable of satisfying the demands of justice, and that only a single worldwide state holds out any possibility of realizing global justice.

Citing this article:
Barry, Brian and Matt Matravers. The scope of international justice. Justice, international, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S033-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles