The International Legal Personality of the Individual (Introduction)
The International Legal Personality of the Individual, Astrid Kjeldgaard-Pedersen, Oxford Press, 2018
25 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2018 Last revised: 18 Sep 2018
Date Written: August 17, 2018
The International Legal Personality of the Individual scrutinizes the relationship between the concept of international legal personality as a theoretical construct and the position of the individual as a matter of positive international law. By testing four main theoretical conceptions of international legal personality against historical and existing international legal norms that govern individuals, the book argues that the common narrative about the development of the role of the individual in international law is flawed. Against this background, the book shows how present-day international lawyers continue to allow an idea, which was never more than a scholarly invention of the nineteenth century, to influence the interpretation and application of contemporary international law. This state of affairs has significant ramifications as international legal rights and obligations of individuals (and other non-State entities) are frequently applied more restrictively than interpretation without presumptions regarding ‘personality’ would merit.
The present paper constitutes the introductory chapter, which first sets the stage by describing, in Section 1.1, the current mainstream approach to the international legal personality of individuals in Section 1.1. Section 1.2. then provides a concise outline of the book’s core arguments. Section 1.3. goes on to clarify a number of preliminary caveats, definitions, and assumptions, which form the basis of the analysis in the following chapters. First and foremost, Section 1.3. presents the book’s understanding of the term ‘individuals’, the relationship between international law and domestic law, and the distinction between primary and secondary rules. Lastly, Section 1.4. provides the reader with a guide to the subsequent chapters.
Keywords: international legal personality, monism, dualism, individuals, non-state actors, armed opposition groups, investors, international legal theory, positivism, Hans Kelsen, relationship between legal orders, international law and national law
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