Whether Universal Values can Prevail over Bilateralism and Reciprocity

Andreas Paulus

in Realizing Utopia

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691661
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738593 | DOI:
Whether Universal Values can Prevail over Bilateralism and Reciprocity

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As long as the world order is based on a decentralized legal system, reciprocity remains one of the pillars of that order. However, community interests have emerged, which have some common features. Firstly, they do not (only) refer to individual interests or rights of certain states, but concern the community at large. Next, they are of sufficient importance so that it is not enough to leave their implementation to the usual interplay between states. Some, but not all of those interests also fulfil a third criterion. That is that they give rights to non-state actors that do not have the necessary international standing to see to enforcement themselves, such as interests related to the environment, the self-determination of peoples, or human rights. Community interests normally tend to implement universal values protected in international rules of jus cogens. At present, there is no reason why community interests should not be protected by the traditional means of reciprocity. However, in the last resort it is international institutions that have to take up collective concerns. This is the reason why the need for the bilateralization of community interests is the greatest in areas of international law that are not sufficiently institutionalized, such as environmental protection or human rights.

Keywords: community interests; jus cogens; bilateralization; international law; human rights

Chapter.  8497 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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