Book chapter (electronic)
in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics
International justice is about the principles of justice that set out what states may and must do in relation to other states and with respect to the people that inhabit them. Theories of international justice often assume that states are the most central agents for justice beyond the domestic realm. Even if the moral value of states is ultimately reducible to that of their inhabitants, states are the most central agents through which individuals act when it comes to international questions. Questions of international justice often involve one or more of the following justice concerns: distributive justice, rectificatory justice, and remedial justice. This is clearly seen in some of the most central topics of international justice, such as trade, climate change, colonialism, and war. International justice provides a framework for thinking about the rights and duties of states with respect to these topics.The principles that set out the rights and duties of states with respect to these issues sometimes come into conflict. This raises a question whether it is better to treat topics in isolation or whether an integrated approach is preferable. Moreover, there is a question about the extent to which states are permitted to give greater weight to its own interests. Finally, there are questions about the extent to which principles of international justice should be action guiding—that is, to what extent they should take into account the feasibility constraints that state leaders face when making decisions.