Challenging the Paris Peace Treaties, State Sovereignty, and Western-Dominated International Law – The Multifaceted Genesis of the Jus Cogens Doctrine
KFG Working Paper Series, No. 19, Berlin Potsdam Research Group 'The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?'
23 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2018 Last revised: 9 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 2018
The genesis of the jus cogens doctrine in international law for long has been associated with a turn to a more value-laden international law after the Second World War promoted by British rapporteurs in the International Law Commission. This paper builds on this narrative but adds two seemingly contradictory story lines. In the 1920s and 1930s German-speaking international legal scholars like Alfred Verdross developed the concept as a tool to renounce the disliked Paris Peace Treaties in the context of more and more aggressive German revision policies. Furthermore, after 1945 Soviet thinkers of the Khrushchev era used jus cogens to criticize Western economic and military integration, while newly independent states regarded the concept as a promising vehicle for distancing themselves from traditional Western international legal notions in the era of decolonization. Hence, instead of embracing a progress narrative, a dark sides-account or a contributionist reading of the history of international law, this paper highlights the multifaceted origins of the jus cogens doctrine.
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