From Principles to Norms: The Development of International Law

Laura Westra, PhD
Ph.D. (Law), Professor Emerita (Philosophy), University of Windsor Sessional Instructor, Faculty of Law, Visiting Professor, Faculty of Jurisprudence, University of Salerno

Series: Laws and Legislation
BISAC: LAW051000

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Volume 10

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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International law needs to be revised and changed radically because presently it is not able to function to protect human rights as it should. Most of the global economic transactions happen beyond states and are not under their control: in fact they are transnational, as are most of the world’s citizens’ interests and aspirations. Most states are now weak: corporations tend to control them indirectly, as well as provide citizens the services that used to be provided by states.

In fact many legal scholars argue that states are now so weakened that they have become irrelevant, so that a law that is intended to be inter-national, that is between nations, ignores the global changes that have occurred supranationally, in the new transnational area controlled by non-state actors and various legal persons, some of which act in desirable ways, while many others are both dangerous and uncontrolled.

The citizens of most nations are now transnational themselves, as they turn to new non-state actors and organizations that embody their interests and aspiration far better than the states where they live can: world citizens turn to the internet to follow their choices and interests as they have lost their trust in the home states, mostly unable to provide not only the services they used to provide, but also any hope of improvement or development.

Hence, we argue that a law that is intended to operate exclusively between nations is no longer sufficient, as it is a system that neither includes nor regulates the real actors that contribute to global governance today, that is non-state actors and legal persons of various kinds. The foundational principles that inspired the most important international legal regimes for the protection of humanity, especially those forbidding racial discrimination, protecting the rights of women and children, of prisoners and others who are oppressed, which are no longer respected too many states , as political gain of various government parties supersede the respect for principles of protection.

Many new problems that emerge then are simply ignored, from the grave problem of migration everywhere, to the loss of democratic power often controlled by the economic interests of the most powerful especially in the West, to the imminent disasters caused by climate change, all problems that are beyond the scope of any single nation to control. Therefore this work proposes a return to the basic principles that should govern international legal regimes in order to achieve a renewed, effective international system of laws.
(Imprint: Nova)

Introduction: The Problem Stated

Chapter 1. The Principles of International Law and the Necessity for their Direct Application

Chapter 2. Non-State Actors and Human Rights: The Function and Role of Legal Persons

Chapter 3. The United Nations System and its Organisations, their Positions and Roles in International Law and the Limits of their Ability to Protect Human Rights

Chapter 4. From Principles to Norms: The Blockages that Prevent the Full Relevance of International Law

Chapter 5. Concluding Thoughts

Index

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