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Jus Cogens

  • Harry D. Gould
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Abstract

Peremptory norms are the centerpiece of this book’s account of the constitution of international society; while we did acknowledge in the Introduction that there is a certain amount of circularity in using the concept of jus cogens to explain the very workings of jus cogens, it is important to recognize that in the post-Vattelian period of Positivism’s dominance, the very idea of a “hierarchy of norms” in international law, the idea that some norms are “more binding” or “more imperative” than others, or to use Prosper Weil’s phrase, the idea of “relative normativity,” was treated as if it were conceptually incoherent.2 The ideas that some norms could not be contracted out of, that some norms could never be legitimately violated, were similarly treated as incoherent. The only limits on states’ unfettered freedom of action were understood to be those voluntarily undertaken by states, and those undertakings were understood to always be subject to subsequent renunciation.

Keywords

International Community Vienna Convention Immoral Treaty Peremptory Norm Moral Vocabulary 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    R. St. J. MacDonald, “Fundamental Norms in Contemporary International Law,” Canadian Yearbook of International Law 25 (1987): 134.Google Scholar
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    Prosper Weil, “Towards Relative Normativity in International Law,” American Journal of International Law 77 (1983).Google Scholar
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© Harry D. Gould 2010

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