Soft Law in Public International Law: A Pragmatic or a Principled Choice? Comparing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement

20 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2017

See all articles by Marcel Brus

Marcel Brus

University of Groningen - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 22, 2017

Abstract

This paper discusses the role of soft law in international law, in particular in the field of sustainable development law. Soft law is often regarded as non-law. However this qualification increasingly does not match the realities of the development of international law in which many legally relevant statements are made in the form of soft law, while many so-called hard law obligations are rather soft. A comparison between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both adopted in the second half of 2015, is used to illustrate these points. It is argued that in the development of international law can be better understood by placing legal statements on a continuum from weak to strong legal pronunciations instead of using the binary approach that distinguishes between hard and soft law and that qualifies soft law as non-law.

Keywords: soft law, sustainable development law, climate law, Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, validity of international law

JEL Classification: K32, K33, K10, F53, F64

Suggested Citation

Brus, Marcel, Soft Law in Public International Law: A Pragmatic or a Principled Choice? Comparing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement (March 22, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2945942 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2945942

Marcel Brus (Contact Author)

University of Groningen - Faculty of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 716
9700 AS Groningen
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.rug.nl/staff/m.m.t.a.brus/

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