Regional Approaches to International Law (RAIL): Rise or Decline of International Law?
KFG Working Paper Series, No. 46, Berlin Potsdam Research Group “The International Rule of Law – Rise or Decline?”
68 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2021
Date Written: March 2021
The fragmentation of international law is both a renewed fear and a driving force in international legal thinking. The discourse of international law has thus always been careful to denounce anything that could undermine the universality and unity of international law, and in so doing, has developed new ideas and mechanisms that can help to curb any risk of fragmentation, supposed or real. In parallel with this movement, there are increasingly pressing calls, both from actors in international society and within international law, for greater consideration of multiculturalism and pluralism in society in the development and application of international legal rules. The present reflection focuses on the articulation of these two movements by asking whether regional approaches to international law (RAIL) pose a real threat to the coherence and integrity of international law. The article concludes that RAIL can be a source of enrichment and consolidation of international law if these approaches are conducted with a view to developing a truly universal international law and not to calling into question its foundations. To reach this conclusion, the paper invites international lawyers to revisit the dogmas of universality and unity in order to question the true meaning of these notions and to think about the future of their discipline.
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