Concepts for International Law
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Concepts for International Law

Contributions to Disciplinary Thought

Edited by Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh

Concepts shape how we understand and participate in international legal affairs. They are an important site for order, struggle and change. This comprehensive and authoritative volume introduces a large number of concepts that have shaped, at various points in history, international legal practice and thought; intimates at how the many projects of international law have grappled with, and influenced, the world through certain concepts; and introduces new concepts into the discipline.
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Chapter 53: The rule of law

Philip Allott


The human world is constructed from fictions that make social organization possible – evolutionary products of the adaptation of particular societies to changing circumstances. The struggle to prevent law from being merely the tool of governmental power produced the idea of a law transcending all societies and the idea of a constitutionalism that makes law into the ultimate source of all public power within a society. The emergence of so-called states as a dominant fiction at the international level was not matched by the production of controlling constitutive ideas corresponding to those in national societies. The recent emergence at the international level of the traditional constitutional systems of national societies makes an idea of the rule of law in international society both a possibility and a necessity.

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