The article critically evaluates the theory of the humanisation of international law. First, it argues that despite human rights having impact on (other areas of) international law, this trend has in the past been somewhat inflated. A number of examples are given where human rights have been tested against other objectives pursued by international law, with humanisation revealing its limits and actual dimensions. The second argument consists in identifying and highlighting obligations erga omnes (partes) and the principle of due diligence as two ‘systemic’ tools, that are central to the humanisation of international law. Both these tools form part of modern positive law, but may also make a positive contribution towards the direction of deeper humanisation in international law, having the potential, inter alia, to limit state will, establish occasional material normative hierarchy consisting in conditional priority in the fulfilment of human rights, give a communitarian tone to international law and invite states to be pro-active in the collective protection of their common interests and values. In its conclusions, the article offers a plausible explanation about the paradox it identifies of the limits of the humanisation on the one hand, and its potential for further development on the other. For, it is inherent in international law that the line separating the law from deontology is thin. The process of humanisation needs to be balanced with the other objectives of international law as well as reconciled with the decentralised and sovereignist origins of the pluralistic international legal system.

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hdl.handle.net/1765/40616
Erasmus Law Review
Erasmus Law Review
Erasmus School of Law

Tzevelekos, V.P. (2013). Revisiting the Humanisation of International Law: Limits and Potential. Erasmus Law Review, 6(1), 62–76. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/40616