Book ReviewIrresolvable Norm ConflictsSymposium

Legal dilemmas: the first step towards a solution is to acknowledge the problem

Imagine that you are the captain of a ship located halfway between several people drowning. You have a duty towards each of them but are unable to save everyone. In such a situation, Valentin Jeutner argues, you are confronted with not only a moral but possibly also a legal dilemma. The notion of a legal dilemma challenges the assumption that international law is a coherent system providing a binary classification …


Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 4

Lea Wisken: Putting legal concepts into political context

Surabhi Ranganathan’s book on strategically created treaty conflicts is a must-read for international lawyers and International Relations scholars interested in fragmentation and regulatory overlap. The choice of the subject-matter alone shows that Ranganathan puts legal concepts into political context. She outlines the inherent limits of international law which cannot prevent states from creating new treaties to undermine existing commitments. However, international law may constrain policy-makers by steering them towards legal …


SymposiumThe Promises of International Law and Society

Should we call a lawyer?

Towards a conceptualisation of norm conflicts for International Relations

In this post, I argue that traditional legal conceptualisations of norm conflicts do not capture the phenomenon that International Relations (IR) scholars are interested in. I propose an alternative definition, which links norm conflicts to political contestation. The number of international treaties registered with the UN approximates 50.000. What are the odds of all these treaties being consistent? Infinitesimally small, one might think. As a result, even IR scholars – traditionally …