National Legislatures: The Foundations of Comparative International Law
One critique of some common-law comparative legal academies is their intensively “court-centric” focus, which, some believe, “marginalize[s]” the role of the legislative branch. The same may be said of the extant comparative international law literature: most of it concerns the interpretive approaches of national courts. In fact, one of the field’s seminal pieces defines comparative international law as the process of “seeking to identify and interpret international law by engaging in comparative analyses of various domestic court decisions.” Not surprisingly, then, nearly all of this volume’s contributions deal mostly or exclusively with courts and judicial decisions. While we agree with this volume’s other contributors that courts can play a significant part in diversifying how international law works across different systems, we contend that the foundation of the comparative international law project lies elsewhere. We argue that among the most important and underappreciated interpretative acts — and therefore, those currently most needing study — are the international law interpretations of national legislatures.