This chapter explores some of the paradoxes and tensions that result from the idea that international law is grounded in the consent of states. The idea of ‘consent’ itself is situated between ‘is’ and ‘ought’, between ‘will’ and ‘norm’, etc. With the advent of so called ‘world order treaties’, the paradoxes of consensualism have become even more acute. In addition, consensualism is often wrongly portrayed as the logical corollary of the principle of sovereign equality. While sticking to the consent of states may in concrete cases indeed help to protect the equality between states, sovereign equality can also be used to argue against consensualism. Finally, limiting international legal analysis to inter-state law blinds us for the development of legal regimes beyond the state. This all does not mean that ‘state consent’ has become irrelevant. There is no point in theorizing state consent away because it is unable to provide a coherent and encompassing foundation of international law as a whole. State consent remains pivotal to understand law-making and the construction of international legal arguments, however paradoxical these arguments may be.
Wouter G. Werner
This chapter examines some consequences of social acceleration, the ‘speeding up of time’, for international law. The first part of the chapter outlines some leading theories on social acceleration, in particular the theory developed by Hermut Rosa. According to Rosa, social acceleration is to be understood as a self-propelling process which ties together three spheres: technology, social structures, and the pace of life. Moreover, as the chapter makes clear, social acceleration is not taking place evenly across societal sectors. Some sectors change at an increasing speed (e.g. communication or the economy), with other sectors lagging behind (e.g. ecological systems). The second part studies some of the impacts of social acceleration on international law. Using the UN global counterterrorism regime as an illustration, the chapter sets out how the enhancement of speed has led to new forms of law, which seek to combine accelerated decision-making with an increased capacity to adapt to rapidly changing situations (stasis and change).