Matters of Interpretation: How to Conceptualize and Evaluate Change of Norms and Values in the International Legal Order
KFG Working Paper Series, No. 24, Berlin Potsdam Research Group “The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?”
22 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018
Date Written: November 2018
This article analyses, from a methodological and theoretical perspective, how international legal method deals with change. Section 2 sets the stage, develops a legal perspective on change of norms and values in the international legal order and distinguishes between structural change and norm change. This is followed in sections 3 and 4 by an examination of doctrinal categories that provide techniques to process change in international legal practice. International legal method is equipped with several techniques to process—and to conceptualize and evaluate—change: ‘Formal’ norm change is a matter of the doctrine of sources. International law can also change ‘informally’ through the shifting meaning of norm texts. Both formal and informal change is a matter of interpretation. Therefore, section 5 aims at theorizing interpretive change. It examines the relationship between the sources of law and legal interpretation as categories of change and analyses theoretical perceptions of interpretive change.
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