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Syria & locating tyranny, hegemony and anarchy in contemporary international law.

O'Donoghue, Aoife (2020) 'Syria & locating tyranny, hegemony and anarchy in contemporary international law.', Jus Cogens., 2 (1). pp. 29-55.


Substantive renderings of tyranny, hegemony or anarchy as governance forms within international law seldom appear. When invoked, tyranny and anarchy are presented as exceptional while hegemony, in accounts often borrowed from international relations scholarship, is defined as mundane and a natural explanation of international legal governance. This article puts forward substantive accounts of all three—tyranny, anarchy and hegemony—and utilises these to understand a single event, the airstrikes against Syria after the use of chemical weapons by the Assad Government in 2018. This event is first described in detail. The article examines the current use of the three theories in international legal theory and considers their substantive content. Next, these three theories are applied both singularly and in combination to the events in Syria to demonstrate what can be observed about international law through their deployment. This article shows the value of understanding the operation of international law through each of these prisms in their substantive form but also, and most markedly, what can be understood when all three frames are combined to explore a single event.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Jus Cogens. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Date accepted:17 March 2020
Date deposited:18 March 2020
Date of first online publication:02 June 2020
Date first made open access:02 June 2021

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