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The Methodological Problems of International Law And Development

  • Ian Brownlie

Extract

My approach in introducing the discussion must be that of the “necessary hostility” of the practitioner who sees the client privately and tries to raise the real difficulties so that these are tackled constructively before the opposition is let loose on the client. Thus the tactic is that of constructive criticism, asking the tough questions. It is well known that multinationals and other interested parties are well served by international lawyers who will not neglect the tough technical problems.

No doubt methodology can be over-emphasised. It is clear that many lawyers have long and successful careers probably without once stopping to worry about methodology. In contrast are the linguistic philosophers who are rather like the gardener who spends his entire career in the tool shed and seed store but never gets out and grows any vegetables. Whilst the problems can be exaggerated, nonetheless there are problems and in a sense I want to raise questions without having firm views about the answers. I think this is exactly the forum in which we can exchange our views and impressions.

In my opinion the New International Economic Order presents problems of sources of a magnitude which is greater than the problems which have to be faced even when one is dealing with relatively old established parts of customary international law. In the first place we look at the nature of the sources. There is an incredible variety of sources, using the term “sources” in a rather question-begging way.

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* This contribution is based on the transcript of the introductory remarks delivered by Professor Brownlie in opening the colloquium.

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