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date: 18 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter observes that with treaties, customs, general principles, decisions, doctrines, and soft law, we are dealing first and foremost with signs. The very structure of signs is inference. This reveals the necessity of interpreting all sources of law. Because doctrine’s first task is interpretation, its role in understanding law is essential. Law, therefore, should not be conceived as a science; it is concerned with what is just, not what is true. From that follows the importance of auctoritas and dogmatics: law establishes values to orient practice. Centred on this practice, doctrine, which lies at the foundation of modern international law, reveals itself to be savante rather than scientific or theoretical.

Keywords: Soft law, General principles of international law, Specific treaties

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