Can the fourth restatement of foreign relations law foster legal stability?

Jide Nzelibe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines whether the kind of legal stability one may expect the Fourth Restatement of Foreign Relations to foster is even feasible, and if it is, whether it is desirable. It makes two key points. First, in the current political climate, the objective of fostering legal stability in foreign relations law may no longer be as feasible as it once was. For much of the postwar era until the administration of President George W. Bush, various commentators have suggested that even though there were occasional partisan skirmishes, a relatively bipartisan consensus on liberal internationalism prevailed. However, today, the conditions that produced that moderate bipartisan consensus no longer hold, and thus the quest to foster stability in foreign relations law is likely to face even more of an uphill battle. Second, while the Fourth Restatement may occasionally foster stability in foreign relations law, there is also the possibility that it may do so in undesirable circumstances. This point assumes that whereas too little legal stability can sometimes be disruptive, too much of it could be inhibiting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Restatement and Beyond
Subtitle of host publicationThe Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Foreign Relations Law
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780197533154
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Bipartisan consensus
  • Foreign relations
  • Foreign relations law
  • Fourth restatement
  • Legal stability
  • Liberal internationalism
  • Partisan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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