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FORMATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW: THE EUROPEAN UNION'S CONTRIBUTION*

  • Jan Vanhamme

Abstract

In this article it is discussed how the European Union's use of treaty-making powers and other external relations competences has contributed to the establishment of human rights as customary international law and makes it more likely that democracy and modern concepts such as good governance, precaution and sustainable development, will also gain this status. A specific focus of attention is on the EU's vision of the aforementioned rights and principles as a limit to State sovereignty. It is shown that the EU promotes an interventionist approach, which allows for proportionate responses to violations of peremptory norms by or in sovereign States. Since this view is expressly subscribed by a vast number of the EU's treaty partners, the EU's vision of State sovereignty is becoming a significant element in the development of the international legal order.

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* © J. Vanhamme, 2009.

** Lic.iur. 1991 (Leuven); LL.M. 1992 (Berkeley); Ph.D. 2000 (Leuven). Legal secretary at the European Court of Justice, Chambers of Judge M. Ilešič. Some of the reflections in this article are inspired on the author's doctoral thesis on ‘principles of jus gentium in European law’ [J. Vanhamme, Volkenrechtelijke beginselen in het Europees recht (Groningen, Europa Law Publishing 2001)]. Special thanks are due to Asja Serdarevic, Researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, for comments on an earlier draft. The final draft was completed in September 2008. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely personal.

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