Authority of International Law: A Relativistic Vision

Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


The concept of authority of law has got a high level of recognition among international legal scholars. However, in most of the cases they seek to develop the idea of whether international law has the legitimate authority, without questioning whether it has the authority at the first place. Yet, in international settings, the authority of law is neither presumed nor presupposed. My understanding of authority is that a legal instrument of a legal regime is considered by relevant subjects as worthy of being conformed to and/or complied with. The authority is considered as a relative and dynamic feature of international law: it may strengthen and bolster, and different regimes in international law may have distinct level of authority.
The key marker of authority of a legal regime in international law is the extent to which it performs the weak and the strong replacement of reasons. Weak replacement is a process during which international law establishes its supremacy over the other normative systems available for the actors for following their reasons. The performance of the weak replacement means that international law establishes a dominant normative environment that international actors use to follow their reasons. The weak replacement supports a claim for the authority, calling upon the relevant actors to endorse it. Strong replacement signifies that international law not only dominates as a normative environment in which the actors follow their reasons. With the strong replacement, international law becomes the only reason actors are supposed to follow. This requires such an intensity and extent to which the primary reasons are incorporated into international law that they are no longer subject to debate or refutation.
Such understanding of authority allows to see it dynamics in international law and highlight how international law interacts with reasons.
EvenementstitelVWR Wintervergadering 2018
LocatieRotterdam, Netherlands
Mate van erkenningNational