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Reflections on the Necessity of Regional Approaches to International Law Through the Prism of the European Example: Neither Yes nor No, Neither Black nor White*

  • Hélène RUIZ FABRI (a1)

Abstract

Invited to speak at the opening of the Second Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law, which focused on International Law in a Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World: Asian Perspectives, Challenges, and Contributions, I had to reflect on the specific contributions our regional societies supposedly bring to international law. More specifically, the underlying idea was that of a regional vision or approach to international law which could be more or less rooted in a tradition. I soon realized that our regional societies could be viewed in a rather ambiguous or ambivalent way, since they could be seen as a means of promoting a regional vision as well as a means of enabling people to meet beyond the domestic scope, which is the horizon of most academics, if not practitioners, to share their views on international law at large. The two views are not entirely incompatible but they do not carry exactly the same spirit regarding the purpose of regional societies.

The ambivalence originates in the necessity we feel to justify our own existence. On the one hand, we can be very pragmatic and point out that the regional level, empirically conceived, is a sort of “critical” level to organize events and network. National is not enough any more for most countries. Global is too much. Regional is, let us say, practicable.

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Name of a French game where the player has to answer a series of quick questions without pronouncing one of these common words. This article is based on a speech given at the Second Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law, International Law in a Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World: Asian Perspectives, Challenges, and Contributions, Tokyo, Japan, 1–2 August 2009.

President, European Society of International Law; Dean, Sorbonne Law School, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; Director, Joint Institute of Comparative Law, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. I am especially grateful to Andrea Hamann Ater at Université Panthéon-Assas Paris 2. This article would not exist without her help.

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1. See the symposium “Europe and International Law” (2004) 15 European Journal of International Law 857.

2. WOOD, Michael, “A European Vision of International Law: For What Purpose?” in Hélène RUIZ FABRI, Emmanuelle JOUANNET, and Vincent TOMKIEWICZ, eds., Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law, Vol. 1 (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008), 151.

3. KOSKENNIEMI, Martti, “International Law in Europe: Between Tradition and Renewal” (2005) 16 European Journal of International Law 113; GERSTENBERG, Oliver, “What International Law Should (Not) Become: A Comment on Koskenniemi” (2005) 16 European Journal of International Law 130; DUPUY, Pierre-Marie, “Some Reflections on Contemporary International Law and the Appeal to Universal Values: A Response to Martti Koskenniemi” (2005) 16 European Journal of International Law 137; NEUMAN, Gerald L., “Talking to Ourselves” (2005) 16 European Journal of International Law 142. See also ORAKHELASHVILI, Alexander, “The Idea of European International Law” (2006) 17 European Journal of International Law 315.

4. JANIS, Mark W., The American Tradition of International Law: Great Expectations 1789–1914 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); ELIAS, Taslim Olawale, Africa and the Development of International Law (The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1972); ANAND, Ram Prakash, “The Role of Asian States in the Development of International Law” in Rene-Jean DUPUY, ed., The Future of International Law in a Multicultural World (Alphen aan den Rijn: Samson-Sijthoff, 1984) 105; ONUMA, Yasuaki, “In Quest of Intercivilizational Human Rights: Universal vs. Relative Human Rights Viewed from an Asian Perspective” in Daniel WARNER, ed., Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: The Quest for Universality (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1997) 43; ONUMA, Yasuaki, “Towards an Intercivilizational Approach to Human Rights” in Joanne R. BAUER and Daniel A. BELL, eds., The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999) 103; ONUMA, Yasuaki, “A Transcivilizational Perspective on Global Legal Order in the Twenty-First Century: A Way to Overcome West-centric and Judiciary-centric Deficits in International Legal Thoughts” in Ronald St. John MACDONALD and Douglas M. JOHNSTON, eds., Towards World Constitutionalism: Issues in the Legal Ordering of the World Community (The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005) 151. See also JOUANNET, Emmanuelle, “Regards sur un siècle de doctrine française du droit international” (2000) Annuaire Français de Droit International 1; CANNIZZARO, Enzo, “La doctrine italienne et le développement du droit international dans l'après-guerre: Entre Continuité et Discontinuité” (2004) 50 Annuaire Français de Droit International 1.

5. ESPIELL, Héctor Gros, “La doctrine du droit international en amérique latine avant la première conférence panaméricaine” (2001) 3 Journal of the History of International Law 1.

6. ANGHIE, Antony and CHIMNI, B. S., “Third World Approaches to International Law and Individual Responsibility in International Conflicts” in Steven R. RATNER and Anne-Marie SLAUGHTER, The Methods of International Law (Washington, DC: American Society of International Law, 2004); GRYZBOWSKI, Kazimierz, Soviet Public International Law: Doctrines and Diplomatic Practice (Leyden: Sijthoff, 1970); PATRY, Andre, “La conception soviétique du droit international” (1971) 9 Canadian Yearbook of International Law 102; LÅNGSTRÖM, Tarja, Transformation in Russia and International Law (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2002).

7. See ALVAREZ, E. Alejandro et al. , Mireille Delmas-Marty et les années UMR (Paris: Ed. de la Société de Législation Comparée, 2005); Mireille DELMAS-MARTY, Trois défis pour un droit mondial (Seuil, 1998); Mireille DELMAS-MARTY, Etudes juridiques comparatives et internationalisation du droit (Favard, 2003); Mireille DELMAS-MARTY, Le relatif et l’universel (Seuil, 2004); Mireille DELMAS-MARTY, Vers un droit commun de l’humanité (Textuel, 2005); Mireille DELMAS-MARTY, Le pluralisme ordonné—Les forces imaginantes du droit (Seuil, 2006).

8. ZIEMELE, Ineta, “Legitimacy of the Vision: Central and Eastern Europe” in Ruiz Fabri et al., eds., supra note 2 at 139–50.

9. Wood, , supra note 2 at 151.

10. LOWE, Vaughan, “Can the European Community Bind the Member States on Questions of Customary International Law?” in Martti KOSKENNIEMI, ed., International Law Aspects of the European Union (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1998) 149; SLAUGHTER, Anne-Marie and BURKE-WHITE, William, “The Future of International Law is Domestic (or, The European Way of Law)” (2006) 47 Harvard International Law Journal 327.

11. RUIZ FABRI, Hélène, “Principes généraux du droit communautaire et droit compare” (2007) 45 Droits 127.

12. Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH v Einfuhr- und Vorratstelle für Getreide und Futtermittel, Case 11/70, [1970] European Court Reports 1125 at 1149.

13. Orakhelashvili, supra note 3. See also ONUMA, Yasuaki, “When Was the Law of International Society Born: An Inquiry of the History of International Law from an Intercivilizational Perspective” (2000) 2 Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international 1.

14. Koskenniemi, , supra note 3 at 120.

15. JACQUÉ, Jean-Paul, “Une vision européenne du droit international?” in Ruiz Fabri et al., eds., supra note 2 at 135.

16. LORCA, Arnulf Becker, “International Law in Latin America or Latin American International Law? Rise, Fall, and Retrieval of a Tradition of Legal Thinking and Political Imagination” (2006) 47 Harvard International Law Journal 283. In favour of this idea: ALVAREZ, Alejandro, “Latin America and International Law” (1909) 3 American Journal of International Law 269. Against this idea: LAUTERPACHT, Hersch, “The So-Called Anglo-American and Continental Schools of Thought in International Law” (1931) 12 British Yearbook of International Law 31; LAUTERPACHT, Hersch, The Development of International Law by the International Court (London: Stevens & Sons, 1958).

17. Fragmentation of International Law: Difficulties Arising from the Diversification and Expansion of International Law, Report of the Study Group of the International Law Commission (ILC), finalized by KOSKENNIEMI, Martti, UN Doc.A/CN.4/L/682 (2006), at 104, para. 201[ILC Study Group Report].

18. Ibid., at 107, para. 207.

19. See, e.g., the proceedings of the American-European Dialogue: Different Perceptions of International Law Symposium, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg, 10 February 2004. Notably, WOLFRUM, Rüdiger, “American-European Dialogue: Different Perceptions of International Law—Introduction” (2004) 64 Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (ZaöRV) 255; and NEUHOLD, Hanspeter, “Law and Force in International Relations: European and American Positions” (2004) 64 Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (ZaöRV) 263.

20. ILC Study Group Report, supra note 18 at 151, para. 294.

21. Jacqué, supra note 15.

22. KERBRAT, Yann, “Le différend relatif à l'usine MOX de Sellafield (Irlande/Royaume-Uni): connexité des procédures et droit d'accés à l'information en matière environnementale” (2005) Annuaire Francais de Droit International 607; Yann KERBRAT and Ph. MADDALON, “L'affaire de l'usine MOX devant la CJCE: la CJCE rejette l'arbitrage pour le règlement des différends entre etats membres (Commentaire de l'arrêt Commission contre Irlande du 30 mai 2006)” (2007) RTDE, No. 1, 154–82.

23. Slaughter and Burke-White, supra note 11.

24. Ibid., at 332.

25. Among others, see KLABBERS, Jan, PETERS, Anne, and ULFSTEIN, Geir, The Constitutionalization of International Law (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); MACDONALD, Ronald St. John and JOHNSTON, Douglas M., eds., Towards World Constitutionalism: Issues in the Legal Ordering of the World Community (The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005); CASS, Deborah Z., The Constitutionalization of the World Trade Organization—Legitimacy, Democracy, and Community in the International Trading System (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); VON BOGDANDY, Armin, “Constitutionalism in International Law: A Proposal from Germany” (2006) 47 Harvard International Law Journal 223; PETERS, Anne, “Compensatory Constitutionalism: The Function and Potential of Fundamental International Norms and Structures” 19 Leiden Journal of International Law 579; DE WET, Erika, “The Emergence of International and Regional Value Systems as a Manifestation of the Emerging International Constitutional Order” (2006) 19 Leiden Journal of International Law 611; PETERSMANN, Ernst-Ulrich, “Human Rights, Constitutionalism and the World Trade Organization: Challenges for World Trade Organization Jurisprudence and Civil Society” (2006) 19 Leiden Journal of International Law 633.

26. “Auberge espagnole” in French, which is also the title of a French movie by Cédric Kaplisch about students sharing a slice of life during an Erasmus stay/exchange in Barcelona.

* Name of a French game where the player has to answer a series of quick questions without pronouncing one of these common words. This article is based on a speech given at the Second Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law, International Law in a Multi-Polar and Multi-Civilizational World: Asian Perspectives, Challenges, and Contributions, Tokyo, Japan, 1–2 August 2009.

President, European Society of International Law; Dean, Sorbonne Law School, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; Director, Joint Institute of Comparative Law, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. I am especially grateful to Andrea Hamann Ater at Université Panthéon-Assas Paris 2. This article would not exist without her help.

Reflections on the Necessity of Regional Approaches to International Law Through the Prism of the European Example: Neither Yes nor No, Neither Black nor White*

  • Hélène RUIZ FABRI (a1)

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