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Cover UK Politics

5. The legal system and human rights  

This chapter focuses on the legal system in the UK and looks at how the legal system and human rights relate to the political system. The chapter starts by defining both the legal system and human rights and shows how they are important in politics and in our democratic society and how they work in practice. These are closely connected issues, as the UK legal system is supposed to operate within human rights principles. The chapter introduces a series of theoretical concepts that aid to the understanding of the legal system. Central to this is the concept of the rule of law. The chapter presents some practical examples to show how various goals are realized. The first example given in the provision of legal aid to those who cannot afford their own legal advice. The second example relates to how policy makers attempt to deal with threats of terrorism. The third example is the key legal basis for the upholding of human rights via the Human Rights Act 1998. The chapter finishes with a debate on the political role of courts and looks at the implications of Brexit for the legal system and human rights.


Cover The Politics of International Law

2. International law and international relations theory  

This chapter discusses international law (IL) and international relations (IR) theory. It studies legal theory in order to better understand what law is, and how IL compares with domestic law. The chapter then introduces the major schools of IR theory, with a focus on how they conceptualize IL and its role in enabling and constraining the conduct of international politics. The disciplinary estrangement between IR and IL began to ease at the end of the 1980s. By that time there were already important strands within IR, including the English School, that were seeking to explain the prevalence of cooperation in an anarchical international system. New generations of IR scholars began theorizing the role of IL in structuring international politics, particularly from the perspectives of liberalism and constructivism, as well as from a range of critical approaches.