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Anne van Mulligen

Legal assertions, arguments and decisions are normative performances as they are routinely evaluated in terms of shared standards of correct and incorrect. This chapter examines the role of normativity in the current discourse regarding the deformalization of international law and global governance. International lawyers have sought to articulate formal normativity as a platform for the contestation of neoliberal governance. Yet the appeal to formal legal normativity is also widely discredited as an appeal to a ‘permissive discourse of necessity’ that limits opportunities for political contestation. This chapter considers what normativity might amount to in light of the indeterminate character and political appropriation of international law’s standards of correctness and delineates a move from rule-based accounts of normativity towards accounts that emphasize its social constitution. It concludes with an examination of how we might understand formal legal normativity as part of an argumentative practice that both opens up and restricts political space.