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From Bilateralism to Community InterestEssays in Honour of Bruno Simma$
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Ulrich Fastenrath, Rudolf Geiger, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, Andreas Paulus, Sabine von Schorlemer, and Christoph Vedder

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588817.001.0001

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The Function of Law and the Codification of International Law in a Changing World

The Function of Law and the Codification of International Law in a Changing World

(p.736) The Function of Law and the Codification of International Law in a Changing World
From Bilateralism to Community Interest

Maurice Kamto

Oxford University Press

The exaltation of the importance, or simply of the real or symbolic use, of legal norms in international relations is reassuring and worrying all at once. It reassures because it reflects a priori a high level of legal development of contemporary international society: is not a commitment to law as the preferred means of regulating social relations an indicator of the degree of socialization and civilization of a community? But it may also cause concern because of a probable overestimation of the role of law in international society. Law means the mandatory rules of conduct. This is a definition from the product, from the result. But one also says that law is the result of power relations in a given society. This is a definition of the law envisaged in terms of the process of its creation. It is through this prism that one can consider codification. Codification involves the mediation of the human will, even if man acted on behalf of the legal abstraction that is the State as a legal person. It is also — maybe even especially — a process of selection between what is considered inappropriate and what is considered effective. This efficiency consists either in that the pertinent norm produces the desired results, or in the potential to achieve these results.

Keywords:   international law, legal norms, international relations, codification

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