Volume 2, Issue 1 (Spring/Summer 1997)

One of the goals of the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs (JILFA) is to provide a forum for the discussion of whether international law actually has any significant real world relevance. One way the international legal system has an impact on the course of contemporary international relations is through the operations of international organizations. The current issue of the JILFA highlights the role of these organizations and illustrates the interaction between the international legal framework provided by these entities and the formation of foreign policy on a national level. The conclusions reached as to the effectiveness of international organizations to create, implement, and then enforce a set of rules on the international community are left open to debate. Readers of this issue of the JILFA may conclude that the efficacy of international organizations is a direct function of the willingness of a global hegemon, such as the United States, to exert its will. Whether the organization is NATO, NAFTA, or the UN, the role of U.S. leadership at critical moments, such as NATO expansion, the Mexican financial crisis of 1995, and the Bosnian war crimes trials (all of which are discussed in this issue), cannot be denied.

Nevertheless, many of these organizations seem to take on a momentum of their own that may supersede the immediate interests of even powerful individual member states like the U.S. For example, a reader of Richard Anderson’s essay may conclude that NATO expansion was not in the best interest of the U.S. and that the very relevance of NATO in the post-Cold War world may be limited at best. Yet NATO did expand, creating new international legal and political obligations for the U.S. and its allies. In a similar vein, Speros Vryonis argues that NATO treaty obligations and the organizational mind-set remaining from the Cold War prevent the U.S. from pursuing its real interests with respect to its policy in the Aegean region and Greco- Turkish relations. The relevance of international organizations is evidenced even more directly by those countries which continue to seek membership in such bodies. Turkish scholar Bulent Aras provides an example of this in his article, which advocates Turkey’s full membership in the European Union. The effectiveness of a regional legal framework, such as the NAFTA, in providing the impetus for responding to broad regional cooperation during a major financial crisis is instructive, as Nora Lustig points out. Her article shows that the response to the Mexican financial crisis of 1995 was quite different from the unsuccessful response to an earlier Mexican financial crisis in the absence of a framework like the NAFTA. Finally, Laurie Cohen’s comment demonstrates how evolving international legal norms can become institutionalized within international organizations and lead to real world action even when the circumstances for implementing and enforcing these norms, such as international criminal law in the case of the Bosnian Tribunal, are less than ideal.

In the end, the role of international organizations in creating international law through their rules, procedures, and actions cannot be overlooked. At the very least they lower transaction costs and improve communication within the international system. But it is quite possible that the international legal framework provided by these organizations may have the potential to modify the behavior of even the most powerful state actors, who also benefit the most from their continued existence and from the stability and predictability afforded by international law. – The Editorial Board

Available at HeinOnline, Westlaw, and LexisNexis.

ESSAY: On the Wisdom of Enlarging NATO, by Richard D. Anderson, Jr. 2 UCLA J. Int’l L. & Foreign Aff. 1.

Mexico in Crisis, the U.S. to the Rescue: The Financial Assistance Packages of 1982 and 1995, by Nora Lustig. 2 UCLA J. Int’l L. & Foreign Aff. 25

POINT-COUNTERPOINT: American Foreign Policy in the Ongoing Greco- Turkish Crisis as a Contributing Factor to Destabilization, by Speros Vryonis, Jr. 2 UCLA J. Int’l L. & Foreign Aff. 69.

POINT COUNTERPOINT: The Importance of Turkey to Relations Between Europe and the Turkic Republics of the Former Soviet Union, by Bülent Aras. 2 UCLA J. Int’l L. & Foreign Aff. 91.

COMMENT: Application of the Realist and Liberal Perspectives to the Implementation of War Crimes Trials: Case Studies of Nuremberg and Bosnia, by Laurie A. Cohen. 2 UCLA J. Int’l L. & Foreign Aff. 113.

Available at HeinOnline, Westlaw, and LexisNexis.

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