The law of peoples

By this, Rawls means a particular political concept of right and justice that applies to the principles and norms of international law and practice. In fact it presupposes a ‘society of peoples’ that all follow the ideas and principles of the law of peoples in their mutual relationships. These peoples have their own internal governments, which may be constitutional, liberal democratic or non-liberal, but are deemed decent governments. This society of people is reasonably just in that its members in their relations follow the law of peoples. This idea of justice is based on the familiar idea of the social contract, and the procedure followed before the principles of right and justice are selected and agreed on is in some way the same in both the domestic and international case, and because they lack knowledge behind the veil of ignorance, their commitments are fair. The principles of the concept of justice presuppose reasonable pluralism and must satisfy the criterion of reciprocity (Rawls, 1999, pp. 3, 14).

For such an end, Rawls used the term ‘peoples’ and not ‘states’.

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