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The Idea of European International Law

Posted: 29 Feb 2008  

Alexander Orakhelashvili

University of Birmingham - Law School

Date Written: April 2006


The nature of international law as a legal system which, on the one hand, responds to the need for interaction between states inherent to international society and, on the other hand, is based on agreement between states, categorically excludes viewing international law as the product of a specific regional, i.e., European, tradition. Yet it is still asserted that international law is a European tradition. Such assertions are not only conceptually flawed, but are also unsupported by evidence. The origins of international law lie outside Europe, and at no stage of its development has international law been a truly European system. This holds true not only in terms of general international law, but also in relation to certain ideas developed at the European level, including the 'public law of Europe', and of modern European projects that appear to be based on ideas of a regional solidarity in Europe.

Suggested Citation

Orakhelashvili, Alexander, The Idea of European International Law (April 2006). European Journal of International Law, Vol. 17, Issue 2, pp. 315-347, 2006. Available at SSRN: or

Alexander Orakhelashvili (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham - Law School ( email )

Birmingham Law School
Birmingham, B15 2TT
United Kingdom


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