Table of Contents

The Political Economy of International Law

The Political Economy of International Law

A European Perspective

Edited by Alberta Fabbricotti

Set in the context of growing interdisciplinarity in legal research, The Political Economy of International Law: A European Perspective provides a much-needed systematic and coherent review of the interactions between Political Economy and International Law. The book reflects the need felt by international lawyers to open their traditional frontiers to insights from other disciplines - and political economy in particular. The methodological approach of the book is to take the traditional list of topics for a general treatise of international law, and to systematically incorporate insights from political economy to each.

Chapter 3: Can Political Economy Help Solve the Riddle of Customary International Law?

Alessandra Gianelli

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, law - academic, european law, public international law, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, international relations, political economy


The goal of the Chapter is to examine how the Political Economy (PE) analysis may help international lawyers in addressing and solving traditional issues they routinely confront, concerning the formation, existence, change, extinction, interpretation of Customary International Law. Because of the relevant role each interpreter – lawyers, government executives, municipal and International judges etc. – plays for these various purposes, customary law is an area where the approach/methodology applied may make a difference. The Chapter deals with each of the above mentioned issues, as well as with the notion of State as conceived in PE, to conclude that while PE can offer a valuable set of instruments for some issues, like the regime of erga omnes obligations or interpretation, in the end its overall contribution is limited. More particularly, PE does not appear to provide tools to anticipate when States are likely to commit breaches. Also, the notion of States in PE may not be directly relevant in international law, due to a precise choice by this system in identifying the entities accountable in law.

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