International Law and the State of Exception

Davies, Sara E. (2008) International Law and the State of Exception. In Bellamy, Alex J., Bleiker, Roland, Davies, Sara E., & Devetak, Richard (Eds.) Security and the War on Terror. Routledge, Hampshire, UK.


This chapter analyzes the legal, philosophical and political literatures that have sought to understand the American actions since 9/11 as a form of exception. The chapter identifies three dominant approaches within the exception literature. The first of these approaches revolves around scholars’ use of Carl Schmitt’s argument. Schmitt stipulates that the existing liberal order has allowed for an undefined emergency to be declared by the executive, which limits the application of laws to a particular group or ‘threat’ indefinitely. The second approach is Giorgio Agamben’s state of exception, where he and his followers argue that we see an exception being declared by United States government in the case of Guantanamo Bay where actions are isolated beyond the point of law or politics. The third approach argues that due to the efforts taken by the US government legal counsel and the executive to justify their actions on legal grounds, the current situation is more a representation of ‘old’ abuse of power than a ‘new’ state of exception. This third group doubts the entire Schmitt and Agamben ‘state of exception’ argument. The chapter then analyses these three broad approaches in an attempt to illuminate what exact role the state of exception theory has played in political responses to terror.

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ID Code: 7356
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: For more information about this book please refer to the publisher's website (see link) or contact the author . Author contact details :
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ISBN: 9780415368445
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > International Law (excl. International Trade Law) (180116)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > APPLIED ETHICS (220100) > Human Rights and Justice Issues (220104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLITICAL SCIENCE (160600) > International Relations (160607)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Routledge
Deposited On: 03 May 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2015 03:05

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