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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter maintains that the doctrine of sources is constructed around a set of shared intuitions and accepted wisdom. One of them is that there exists no hierarchy among sources of international law and that these are, to all intents and purposes, of equal rank and status. The chapter takes a critical look at this ‘non-hierarchy’ thesis, arguing that it is descriptively problematic as it tends to conceal the fact that international legal actors (States, judges, scholars) constantly establish more or less formalized hierarchies of worth and status among law-making processes. These are, admittedly, soft and transient hierarchies that very much depend on contexts, circumstances, the identity of the legal subjects, and the projects they pursue. But these are hierarchies nonetheless inasmuch as that they involve a differentiation of sources ‘in a normative light’.

Keywords: Judges, General principles of international law, Sources of international law

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