Reference : 'If at first they don't succeed'… The principle of universality in international law ...
Scientific Presentations in Universities or Research Centers : Scientific presentation in universities or research centers
Law, criminology & political science : European & international law
'If at first they don't succeed'… The principle of universality in international law and the theory of 'failed' states: challenges and analysis
Pichou, Maria mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) > Law Research Unit >]
Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 2014 Annual Conference, ‘Stepping Away from the State: Universality and Cosmopolitanism’
from 09-05-2015 to 11-05-2014
St John’s College Divinity School, University of Cambridge
[en] failed states ; cosmopolitanism ; universality
[en] The idea of universality in international law has faced many challenges, both in theory and in practice. Among them, the theoretical construction of ‘rogue’ and ‘failed’ states has been identified as a challenge to the classic notion of universality, which refers to international law’s universal applicability. However, the issue of how the discourse on failed, collapsed, outlaw, rogue or pariah states questions specifically the principle of universality has not yet been clarified. The analysis through the lens of international law is particularly relevant at a time when the current turn of events in some states poses both theoretical and practical challenges in terms of humanitarian assistance, flows of refugees and economic stability around the world.

This article addresses this issue, first by outlining the main elements of the concept of failed and rogue states and of semantically relevant terms. It, then, proceeds to inquire how the discourse about these states challenges the principle of universality along with the traditional state-centric view of international law. In so doing, it attempts to illustrate specific aspects of the principle of universality in international law which are challenged by such theoretical constructions which are based on the premise that fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter should only be respected when a state is first a secure (liberal, democratic) place to live in. In this respect, the question of cosmopolitanism in international law comes into play and the article concludes by examining whether the theory of failed or rogue states is a representative expression of global cosmopolitan law.

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