Defective Law

39 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2010 Last revised: 4 Dec 2010

See all articles by Alexander Somek

Alexander Somek

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: September 16, 2010


The article takes up the foundational challenge of public international law (“Is it really law?”) in a different key. It shifts the focus from exploring effectiveness or the rule of law to the question of what it takes for actors to participate in a legal relationship. A relationship of this type involves distance in compliance as well as distance in engagement. Law is defective, but nonetheless law, whenever a mismatch arises in the relation of one and the other. The article explains that core parts of public international law are constitutionally deficient. Doctrinal attempts to address this deficiency give rise to defective law.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Legality, Public International Law, Customary International Law, Legal Doctrine, Legal Philosophy, Legal Theory

Suggested Citation

Somek, Alexander, Defective Law (September 16, 2010). University of Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-33, Available at SSRN: or

Alexander Somek (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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