International Humanitarian Law Without the State?

19 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2017

See all articles by Pål Wrange

Pål Wrange

Faculty of Law, Stockholm University

Date Written: 2016


What would international law look like in a world without states — or with states being non-dominant? How would it be formed and who would be its protagonists? And would that world be a better place? To think about international law without states might seem like a ludicrous idea. After all, inter-national is often interpreted to mean “inter-state”, and for many people, any law without the state seems impossible to think. However, the state has been around for only a few hundred years, and yet there have been norms between political communities — whether we call that international “law” or not – for much longer. International law without the state could mean de facto anarchy and even perennial war. But it could also mean inter-communal law between communities that are not states, if we assume that people without states would spontaneously form political communities, albeit of a different nature. Or it could be mainly transnational law, formed between apolitical bodies, like corporations. Or, perhaps, a bit of all of that.

Suggested Citation

Wrange, Pål, International Humanitarian Law Without the State? (2016). Faculty of Law, Stockholm University Research Paper No. 27, Available at SSRN: or

Pål Wrange (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, Stockholm University ( email )

S-106 91 Stockholm
+46708544725 (Phone)


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