Assessing the legitimacy of any legal system is hard, but especially if the system in question is the volatile and contested field of international law. Recognizing limits of space and my capabilities, I reframe the task for this chapter. Rather than defending or attacking the legitimacy of international law, it talks about how one might think about this issue. The chapter proceeds by breaking down the issue of legitimacy into a series of questions. Is international law a legal system? What are the sources of values and standards for assessing its legitimacy? Does contemporary practice of international law advance or retard the development of a legitimate legal system? It concludes with a brief discussion of areas for future research.

Paul B. Stephan, The Legitimacy of International Law, in Palgrave Handbook of International Political Theory, Palgrave Macmillan (2023).