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What Rule of Law Ideal is Fit for International Law?

This summer in Morocco my tour guide told me he does not want to leave the country but needs a foreign passport. Any foreign passport will do. As a Moroccan, he is subject to arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment by the police, but a foreign passport will protect him. It will give him other benefits, such as access to bank loans and the ability to get a lucrative liquor licence for a restaurant, otherwise given only to government entities and to foreign passport holders. This situation is a stark reminder of the importance of the rule of law: that legal rules are applied equally, impartially to all, that individuals can claim and defend their rights via due process and access to justice through a system of courts and law enforcement independent of political influence. These principles are not well-established in international law. Some notable differences between municipal and international law prompt people to ask whether they are relevant at all. Taking states as the main subjects of international law, one significant difference is that…

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International Law: System or Set?

“International law is a system …. not a random collection of [] norms.” So concluded the International Law Commission’s Study Group on the Fragmentation of International Law in 2006. Legal philosophers immediately recognized the target. In a footnote to their full report, the Study Group named him: The view that holds international law…

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Introducing David Lefkowitz’s Philosophy and International Law

David Lefkowitz’s new book Philosophy and International Law: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2020) comes at a critical time in the conversation between international law scholars and practitioners, on the one hand, and philosophers, whether legal, moral, or political, on the other. More dialogue among scholars of international law and philosophy Until about fifteen years…

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Dithering, Trickling Down, and Encoding: Concluding Thoughts on the ‘ILC Articles at 20’ Symposium

Twenty years ago, to this day, the ILC’s efforts at clarifying the rules of State responsibility came to an end. On 9 August 2001, the ILC finalised its work, begun just under four decades earlier, of spelling out  ‘the general conditions under international law for the State to be considered responsible for wrongful actions or omissions, and…

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State Responsibility and the Global Environmental Crisis

This post explores some aspects of the ILC’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (‘ARSIWA’) as they concern the global environmental crisis. The understanding of environmental degradation has changed over time from a bilateral/horizonal issue to a community one. Even within the latter frame, the enormity of the challenge is now much better understood.

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