Soft law in public international law: a pragmatic or a principled choice? Comparing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement

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1 Citaat (Scopus)


This paper discusses the role of soft law in international law, in particular in the field of sustainable development law. Soft law is often regarded as non-law. However this qualification increasingly does not match the realities of the development of international law in which many legally relevant statements are made in the form of soft law, while many so-called hard law obligations are rather soft. A comparison between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both adopted in the second half of 2015, is used to illustrate these points. It is argued that in the development of international law can be better understood by placing legal statements on a continuum from weak to strong legal pronunciations instead of using the binary approach that distinguishes between hard and soft law and that qualifies soft law as non-law.
Originele taal-2English
TitelLegal Validity and Soft Law
RedacteurenPauline Westerman, Jaap Hage, Stephan Kirste, Anne Ruth Mackor
Plaats van productieCham
ISBN van elektronische versie978-3-319-77522-7
ISBN van geprinte versie978-3-319-77521-0
StatusPublished - 1-dec-2018
EvenementValidity and Public Trust - University of Groningen, Het Kasteel, Melkweg 1, Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Duur: 17-dec-201518-dec-2015

Publicatie series

NaamLaw and Philosophy Library


ConferenceValidity and Public Trust

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