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Defying gravity: defining the international rule of law

McCorquodale, Robert


Robert McCorquodale


This article aims to offer a definition of the international rule of law. It does this through clarifying the core objectives of a rule of law and examining whether the international system could include them. It demonstrates that there can be a definition of the international rule of law that can be applied to the international system. This definition of the international rule of law is not dependent on a simplistic application of a national rule of law, as it takes into account the significant differences between national and international legal systems. It seeks to show that the international rule of law is relative, rather than absolute, in its application, is not tied to the operation of the substance of international law itself, and it can apply to states, international organizations and non-state actors. It goes further to show that the international rule of law does exist and can be applied internationally, even if it is not yet fully actualized.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 3, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 18, 2016
Publication Date Apr 1, 2016
Deposit Date Dec 6, 2016
Journal International and Comparative Law Quarterly
Print ISSN 0020-5893
Electronic ISSN 1471-6895
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 2
Keywords definition; international law; international legal system; international rule of law; rule of law; States; United Nations
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