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Jus Cogens
International Law and Social Contract

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  • Date Published: February 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107442092

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About the Authors
  • One of the most complex doctrines in contemporary international law, jus cogens is the immediate product of the socialization of the international community following the Second World War. However, the doctrine resonates in a centuries-old legal tradition which constrains the dynamics of voluntarism that characterize conventional international law. To reconcile this modern iteration of individual-oriented public order norms with the traditionally state-based form of international law, Thomas Weatherall applies the idea of a social contract to structure the analysis of jus cogens into four areas: authority, sources, content and enforcement. The legal and political implications of this analysis give form to jus cogens as the product of interrelation across an individual-oriented normative framework, a state-based legal order, and values common to the international community as a whole.

    • Provides an accessible resource for the doctrine of jus cogens in international law, which allows scholars and practitioners to access the concept from various discrete points
    • Theoretical narrative links chapters and fosters an understanding of how each feature of the doctrine of jus cogens links together within a unifying social contract framework
    • Includes relevant points of law wherever possible, thereby removing issues from the abstract by anchoring an often theoretical concept of law in jurisprudence
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    • Co-Winner, 2017 ILAW Book Award, International Law Section, International Studies Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    '[Weatherall's] volume has the virtue of delving deeply into international and national jurisprudence to examine how courts have referred to jus cogens and what effects have resulted. The compilation of national court judgments referring to jus cogens is, on its own, quite impressive …' Dinah Shelton, American Journal of International Law

    'Mediating between the view that the moral dimension of human dignity itself explains the peremptory force and the view that the legal effects of jus cogens are simply based on state consent, Weatherall would like to reconcile natural law and positivist approaches.' Thomas Kleinlein, The European Journal of International Law

    'This short review does not allow for a more detailed analysis of this work, and cannot, therefore, do justice to Weatherall's extensive argumentation. While some readers may feel as though certain questions posed by the author remain unsettled, it is likely that the sheer complexity of this topic, which builds upon all of international law's foundational notions, makes such an impression inevitable. In sum, this book should be recommended: as the ILC is about to consider the first report of its Special Rapporeur on Jus Cogens, Weatherall's volume stands as an indispensable resource for the fascinating debates to come.' Sevrine Knuchel, Netherlands International Law Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107442092
    • length: 554 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.83kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens)
    1. The authority of jus cogens
    2. Material and formal sources of jus cogens
    3. Peremptory norms and the individual
    4. Peremptory norms and the state
    Conclusion: international law and social contract.

  • Author

    Thomas Weatherall, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    Thomas Weatherall holds a JD from Georgetown University, Washington DC, a PhD in International Law from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy from the University of Oxford, and a BA in International Studies from The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. This book is based on the doctoral thesis completed by the author as an International Scholar of the Cambridge Overseas Trust at the University of Cambridge.


    • Co-Winner, 2017 ILAW Book Award, International Law Section, International Studies Association

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