Justice in international diplomacy

Harald Müller in HSFK Working Paper No. 8 on the meaning of justice concerns in international diplomacy

Justice concerns appear frequently in international relations they are present in all negotiations and thus a core subject of international diplomacy. Putting the label “justice” at an issue can be analyzed as a speech act in parallel to “securitization”.


Justization defines an issue as morally relevant, emotionally charged, and hard to compromise. It signals a stubborn negotiation attitude to international partners and serves as a rallying cry to domestic audiences. Once justization has happened, diplomats and their political principals have a hard time to explain eventual compromises to their population that had been mobilized around a justice claim. Public diplomacy about justice issues, therefore, makes compromising harder. Since ideas of justice are rooted in cultural traditions that might diverge considerably, finding understandings, compromises and solutions requires building bridges across cultural divides. While not impossible, this is a daunting task.


In Working Paper Justice in international diplomacyHarald Müller analyses Justization, because this deconstruct the promises to enrich our knowledge about negotiations by adding an important moral dimension to inquiries based on the concept of interest.