International law as professional practice: the bounds of legal autonomy

Collins, Richard and Bohm, Alexandra (2017) International law as professional practice: the bounds of legal autonomy. In: International law as a profession. CUP, Cambridge. ISBN 9781107140394


Request a copy
[img] PDF
24242.pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive


Since the end of the nineteenth century international law has been perceived as an autonomous institutional practice, similar in many respects to its domestic counterpart. However, its decentralised institutional structure arguably undermines this claim to autonomy, blurring the boundaries between legal official, participant, and academician. This structural condition leads to uncertainty not only in ascertaining binding rules, but also interpreting, applying and understanding them in relation to one another. The claim to autonomy is thus often critiqued as overly formalistic, ignoring the creative role of international legal scholars and practitioners in actually shaping the law in line with their particular normative agenda or political project. Whilst the authors of this chapter do not deny that international law is inherently instrumental in this respect, they will argue that its utility in furthering any particular agenda ultimately depends upon maintaining the “myth” of autonomy in structuring any meaningful legal argument. This is not to deny the relevance of the structural dissimilarity between international and domestic legal orders; rather, it suggests the importance of a certain form of argument and legal craft as a pre-condition for meaningful participation in international legal practice and as a necessary counterweight to more egregiously instrumental tendencies.

Keywords:international law, legal theory
Subjects:M Law > M130 Public International Law
M Law > M240 Jurisprudence
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Law School
ID Code:24242
Deposited On:25 Sep 2016 08:29

Repository Staff Only: item control page