Acquiescence, Objection and the Death of Customary International Law

16 Pages Posted: 8 May 2011 Last revised: 6 Jun 2012

Date Written: April 25, 2011


This piece, which appeared in a colloquium commenting on Curtis Bradley & Mitu Gulati, Withdrawing from International Custom, 120 Yale L.J. 202 (2010), focuses on whether customary international law (CIL) norms can ever be supplanted. This essay examines the phenomenon of persistent objection in the formation of CIL rules, as well as the potential for such norms to enter desuetude or to be affirmatively altered. The essay offers a coherent theory for CIL formation and dissolution, consistent with the underlying dynamism and legitimacy of this source for international legal obligation. Parts of this essay appeared in the author's recent volume, CUSTOM AS A SOURCE OF LAW (Cambridge University Press 2010).

Keywords: customary international law, persistent objection, desuetude

Suggested Citation

Bederman, David J., Acquiescence, Objection and the Death of Customary International Law (April 25, 2011). Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law, Vol. 21, No. 31, 2010, Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 11-156, Available at SSRN: or

David J. Bederman (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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