Economic Analysis of International Law
Show Less

Economic Analysis of International Law

Edited by Eugene Kontorovich and Francesco Parisi

Through original and incisive contributions from leading scholars, this book applies economics and other rational choice methods to understanding public international law. The chapters cover a range of topics, from the sources of international law to means of enforcement. The application of economic analysis to public international law is still in its early stages, and Economic Analysis of International Law provides a useful overview, as well as setting directions for new research.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 5: Soft law

Andrew T. Guzman and Timothy Meyer


The topic of international soft law has long confounded both legal scholars and political scientists. Although the term soft law has been in the legal lexicon since at least the 1970s, there is still no consensus on its meaning or its role in the international legal system. In an attempt to summarize existing views on the subject, we identify three different approaches to situating soft law within the international legal landscape. One group of scholars, the traditional legal positivists, tends to dismiss soft law. They do so not because they think the norms at issue are irrelevant, but because they consider these norms to be beyond the scope of what should concern legal scholars. Prosper Weil, for example, once argued that the kinds of obligations that flow from soft law are indeterminate because they ‘are neither soft law nor hard law: they are simply not law at all’. In a similar manner Jans Klabbers argued that soft law is fundamentally incoherent as a theoretical construct and is, at best, a superfluous addendum to the binary conception of law and legality. Jean d’Aspremont has gone so far as to contend that maintaining the binary distinction between law and non-law is necessary for the international legal system to maintain its ability to regulate state behavior. Oscar Schacter is somewhat more tolerant of soft law, but views it as a clear second best relative to hard law.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.