International law often makes storytellers of onlookers. The stories that gain scholarly and popular traction are of a common genre, focusing on international law from the top down. They typically center on a state's treaty-based commitments or on an intergovernmental institution born from a treaty. They open with diplomats at majestic negotiating tables, secluded in remote yet pristine locations, wrangling politely over the text of a treaty. The climaxes are photo-opportunity events-a treaty-signing ceremony or the founding of a new institution. The denouement is the "trickle-down," the inevitably imperfect business of translating international law into domestic or transnational practice. This traditional, top-down international lawmaking story tells of state actors making international law and imposing it on others who may have been quite removed, geographically and politically, from the entire lawmaking process.
Janet K. Levit,
A Bottom-Up Approach to International Lawmaking: The Tale of Three Trade Finance Instruments,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol30/iss1/4