The Identity of International Law

Rosalyn Higgins Dbe Qc

in Themes and Theories

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780198262350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682322 | DOI:
The Identity of International Law

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To speculate upon the identity of international law is to ask a different, albeit related, set of questions. It is now fairly widely accepted that United Nations resolutions, under certain conditions, can be treated as sources of international law. We may note that the International Court of Justice itself has on many occasions examined non-binding resolutions as a source of legal obligation. How one differentiates international law from related disciplines depends in large part upon one’s views of law as rules or process, as neutral or value-free, as responsive to or distinct from external factors, as authority or power interlocked with authority. The answers to each of these depends upon alternative perceptions of the theory of international law, and that, in turn, will be coloured by one’s responses to the difficult questions of the basis of legal obligation, the place of sanctions, and the process of acceptable change in a system that requires predictability to go hand in hand with justice.

Keywords: United Nations; international law; identity; resolutions; International Court of Justice; legal obligation; sanctions; justice; authority

Chapter.  8823 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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