Book ReviewIrresolvable Norm ConflictsSymposium

Dilemmatic Discomfort: Author’s Response

I am very grateful to Rostam Neuwirth, Surabhi Ranganathan, Wolfgang Thierse and Lea Wisken for taking the time to engage with my book in such a thoughtful and constructive manner. I would also like to thank the Völkerrechtsblog, and in particular, Sebastian Spitra, for arranging this symposium and Valentina Kleinsasser for translating the interview with Wolfgang Thierse. The four contributions raise many more points and questions than I have space …

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Book ReviewIrresolvable Norm ConflictsSymposium

“Irresolvable Norm Conflicts”: An Oxymoron?

Norm conflicts in international law have received surprisingly little attention, given their fundamental relevance for law in general and the present international legal order in particular. Long ago, a few pages in Emer De Vattel’s Le droit des gens, published in 1758 (De Vattel 1758: 507-514, and an article by C. Wilfred Jenks titled “The Conflict of Law-Making Treaties”, published in 1953 (Jenks 1953), would have nearly completed the list …

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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 …

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Book ReviewIrresolvable Norm ConflictsSymposium

Romancing the State

Perhaps the first and very pleasant thought that will strike readers of Irresolvable Norm Conflicts in International Law is that the medium is not the message. The book is about the impossibility of reconciling norms that pull in different directions. The writing, however, achieves the feat – not impossible, but very difficult – of balancing erudition with intuition, and complexity with concision. Over the slender course of 153 elegantly drafted …

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InterviewIrresolvable Norm ConflictsSymposium

„Wer entscheidet, macht sich schuldig“

Ein Interview mit Wolfgang Thierse

Wolfgang Thierse (SPD) war von 1998 – 2005 Präsident und von 2005 – 2013 Vizepräsident des Deutschen Bundestages. Von 1991 – 2013 war Thierse Vorsitzender der Grundwertekommission der SPD. Das Interview führte Valentin Jeutner mit Wolfgang Thierse am 21. Mai 2019 in Berlin. Eine englische Übersetzung des Interviews findet sich hier.   Valentin Jeutner: Lieber Herr Thierse, ich möchte mit Ihnen heute über mein kürzlich veröffentlichtes Buch sprechen. In dem …

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InterviewIrresolvable Norm ConflictsSymposium

“The one who decides is guilty”

An interview with Wolfgang Thierse

Wolfgang Thierse (SPD) was the President of the German Bundestag from 1998 to 2005 and its Vice-President from 2005 to 2013. From 1991 to 2013, Thierse was chairman of the SPD’s Values and Principles Commission. Valentin Jeutner conducted the interview with Wolfgang Thierse on 21 May 2019 in Berlin. This English translation of the authoritative German version was prepared by Valentina Kleinsasser.   Valentin Jeutner: Mr Thierse, today I would …

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Current Developments

Can we detect paradigmatic shifts when we see them?

Observations from an interdisciplinary workshop on norm and value changes

There certainly is no shortage of supposedly common wisdoms in academia on the futility of interdisciplinary work, not all of them as witty as MacIntyres’ observation that it “seems impossible to be truly bi-lingual in scientific terminology and methodology”. At the same time, there are questions that no single discipline can answer. The Workshop “Decline or Transformation? Norm change and values in international law” convened by Andrea Liese (international relations) …

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Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 5

Response from the author

I am grateful to all participants of this symposium for their thoughtful and generous commentaries. The strange truth about book-writing, which I suppose all experienced hands know (and I discovered as a first-time author), is the void that follows once the manuscript is finished. The book then disappears into the publishing process, and gradually snakes on to the desks and reading lists of other scholars. The author might wait months …

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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 …

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Ranganathan Book SymposiumSymposium

Ranganathan Book Symposium: Part 3

Jan Klabbers: Conflicts as Solutions

Some years ago, I published a slender book on the topic of treaty conflict. Zooming in on the treaty relations of member states of the EU, I found that international law had little to say about treaty conflicts involving different parties. If party A has incompatible treaty obligations with states B and C, then it just has to make a choice or, as a German scholar (and later EU judge) …

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