The Utility of Regional Jus Cogens

16 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2009 Last revised: 1 Sep 2013

See all articles by Reza Hasmath

Reza Hasmath

University of Alberta - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2012


This article examines a regionalized set of international legal norms and values, and expunges whether they can be reconstituted as regional jus cogens norms. An analysis of the Brezhnev Doctrine, juvenile executions in the Americas, and Islamic human rights will be instructive in this manner. The practical utility of regional jus cogens norms will also be highlighted. Steeped in a positivist stance, the article suggests that a set of higher laws of overriding importance can assist in accomplishing certain political tasks that are deemed acceptable within a specific time-period by a group of nation-states. Moreover, regional jus cogens norms can be replaced by another super-norm, or eliminated entirely by the passing of their usefulness. The implications for the existence and practice of regional jus cogens norms will be considered, notably their effect on sovereign equality and the promotion of differential treatment. Given a current international community of nation-states characterized by unprecedented heterogeneity, this article will argue that the use of regional jus cogens norms are demanded in limited situations.

Winner of the Society for the Study of Social Problems' Alfred R. Lindesmith Award.

Keywords: jus cogens, regionalisation, sovereign equality, differential treatment

Suggested Citation

Hasmath, Reza, The Utility of Regional Jus Cogens (2012). American Political Science Association Annual Meeting (New Orleans, USA), August 30-September 2. Available at SSRN: or

Reza Hasmath (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Political Science ( email )

10-16 Henry Marshall Tory Building
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H4

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