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Helmut Philipp Aust

This introductory chapter explains the common themes underlying the volume. It recounts and connects three broadly defined current academic discourses and how they are connected: the debate on the concomitant challenges stemming from a backlash against the European Court of Human Rights and the rise of systems with an authoritarian or populist bend, a renewed interest in the history of the European Convention system, especially its ‘alarm bell’ function as well as the role that historical injustices and large-scale violations of human rights have played in the case law of the Strasbourg Court. The contribution makes the argument that it is important to view these discourses in an interconnected manner. If the historical function of the Court was to establish an ‘alarm bell mechanism’ against authoritarian backsliding, the current political situation is the right moment for testing the Court’s ability to this effect. The chapter also situates the book in the broader context of various current debates in the human rights scholarship, both legal and historical. It finishes by providing a roadmap to the volume and its individual contributions.

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Helmut Philipp Aust

This contribution analyses the development of the doctrine of fundamental rights of states in German international legal doctrine. It shows how the doctrine, despite its natural law origins, was able to adapt and flourish in a more positivist environment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was highly malleable with respect to the uses to which it was put. Accordingly, it was relied on in order to support National Socialist conceptions of international law as well as to connect with a return to natural law after the Second World War. With a turn to more pragmatist approaches in German scholarship since the middle of the twentieth century, the doctrine seemed to have faded away. However, this contribution argues that it has witnessed a somewhat unexpected comeback. Driven by some functional and constructive analogies with parts of the constitutionalisation literature, it is possible to see traces of the doctrine re-emerging. In this respect, it may even be said to resemble parts of the recent case law of the German Federal Constitutional Court, which has put a strong emphasis on sovereignty and self-determination as limits of international and European integration.

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Helmut Philipp Aust and Janne E. Nijman

Chapter 6 is the final chapter in Part I and it seeks to resituate the ‘planetary’ dimensions of the planetary boundaries framework within a very localised urban or city context. Helmut Aust and Janne Nijman argue that the relationship between planetary boundaries and cities is obviously obscure at first glance. After all, responding to the planetary boundaries in a holistic and integrated manner seems to call for global solutions; not city level interventions. Yet, they show that it is important to downscale governance approaches, if only to solicit support for governing planetary boundaries at all levels of governance, and that cities could make an important contribution in this respect. In critically canvassing the relationship between cities, planetary boundaries and the Anthropocene, the chapter portrays some of the many promises that a turn to the city seems to bring in this respect, in particular through forms of innovative urban governance. The authors are, however, also careful to contextualise these promises, and they critically reflect on some of the potential shortcomings that are associated with the recent adoration of cities as more responsible and benign units of governance. The chapter ultimately shows how cities are inevitably bundled up in the processes which bring us closer to the planetary boundaries and which have created the Anthropocene: the planetary boundaries run right through them, as the authors show.

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Edited by Helmut Philipp Aust and Janne E. Nijman

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Helmut Philipp Aust and Janne E. Nijman

This introductory chapter sets the scene for the Research Handbook. It retraces how cities gradually develop into internationally relevant actors, how this development has been first traced in other disciplines and how slow the scholarship of international law has been catching up with this development. This picture has changed in the last ten to fifteen years and the chapter contains a state of the art overview of the extant literature in the growing field of international law research on cities as actors in international law, forming transnational networks and being impacted for example by normative expectations of good urban governance. It articulates how the turn of the city to the international also finds its limits in international law and institutions. The chapter argues that it is time to take a further step in the production of international law scholarship towards better understanding how international law is transformed through the growing role of cities. It combines this call with an introduction to the themes of individual sections and contributions of the Handbook.

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Edited by Helmut Philipp Aust and Janne E. Nijman

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Edited by Helmut Philipp Aust and Janne E. Nijman

This groundbreaking Research Handbook provides a comprehensive analysis and assessment of the impact of international law on cities. It sheds light on the growing global role of cities and makes the case for a renewed understanding of international law in the light of the urban turn.
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Helmut Philipp Aust and Anél du Plessis

Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sets out to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030. Together with the New Urban Agenda adopted at the Habitat III conference in Quito in 2016, SDG 11 is the latest emanation of the thickening layer of international normative guidance on questions of sustainable development and urban governance. This chapter argues that Goal 11 of the SDGs is a clear expression of the urban turn, as it were, in global governance. The contribution contextualizes the setting in which SDG 11 is inserted as well as the aspirations of Goal 11. The chapter also unearths the inherent contradictions of SDG 11 since not all of its sub-goals will be attainable at the same time and without negatively impacting on some of the other SDGs. For instance, the notions of ‘safety’ and ‘inclusiveness’ might well conflict with each other. The chapter concludes with a critical view on some of the general implementation risks and challenges associated with SDG 11.