Indiana Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017

Publication Citation

92 Indiana Law Journal 1449 (2017)


Why is international law ineffective at times in achieving its aims, such as preventing human rights abuses, forestalling armed conflict, and ensuring global cooperation on matters ranging from the environment to nuclear proliferation? This Article offers original empirical research to suggest that an important and underappreciated part of the answer lies in legal education. Conducting a global survey on the study of international law at thousands of law schools in over 190 countries, the Article reveals significant cross-national disparities in the pervasiveness of international legal training, and draws on other research to highlight similar variations in instructional quality, topical emphases, and ideological orientation.

The central claim is that these conditions are likely to inhibit the efficacy of international law. In states where training in international law is widespread, rigorous, and supportive of the discipline, universities may contribute materially to norm awareness, utilization, and even obedience over the long run. But in the significant number of states where training is unavailable or limited, poor in quality, or critical of global norms, universities plausibly generate a neutral or opposite effect. Moreover, the fact of cross-national variation in these conditions likely imposes a systemic limit on the coherence and value of international law. This analysis suggests an expansive research agenda for scholars and may carry important implications for U.S. law schools, as well as universities and foreign ministries around the world.