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Prof. Markus Jachtenfuchs
Prof. Georg Nolte
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Berlin Potsdam Research Group
International Law - Rise or Decline?
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 2093-3322
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The Research Group will evaluate whether certain premises of the modern international rule of law need to be reassessed. Are recent challenges a sign for a continuing growth of international law, or rather for the emergence of a paradigm in which sovereignty, non-intervention and state-controlled economy are once again emphasized more than human rights, democracy and free trade? Although it will not be possible to give a general answer to this question, it is nevertheless important to identify changes in emphasis for the discourse and the self-conception of states and other actors of the international system.

The articulation and rebalancing of principles of international law, in particular by the UN Charter or in the Declaration on Friendly Relations, is a means for determining the contemporary state and role of public international law. Assessing the sources of international law also contributes to the diagnosis of its current state: Whereas the codification movement of the twentieth century wanted to replace customary international law by treaty law, today one must ask whether the perceived stagnation in the conclusion, ratification and amendment of treaties does not, on the contrary, lead treaty law to be "overgrown" by custom-like practices, informal instruments and commentaries of varying authority. In order to determine the current and future role of international law it is, first and foremost, important to know where, why, and if so to what extent which form of regulation is practiced. It should then also be clarified whether a lack of treaty norms can be compensated by informal instruments or general principles of law. In this context the Research Group will also examine the importance of classical international legal norms and rules, the applicability of which is, in an altered context, no longer certain, but which some actors carefully amend and reinforce in paralegal processes.

The Group will also assess whether informal forms of law creation and enforcement are based on a need for accelerated law-making on the global level, on the need to take into account or circumvent national democratic processes or on the easier production of consensus in substance. Informality may also mask dissent in substance, which becomes apparent in times of greater tension and would have repercussions on international law.

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