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International Legal Positivism in a Post-Modern World

The Project


International Legal Positivism in a Post-Modern World provides fresh perspectives on one of the most important, yet controversial families of theoretical approaches to the study and practice of international law. In nineteen chapters, written by leading experts on international legal theory, positivism as conceptual framework for international law is analysed, criticised, related to other approaches and applied to current problems of international law. Is legal positivism still relevant to the theory and practice of international law today? Have other answers to the problems of international law and the critique of positivism been able to undermine the positivist project and its narratives? Do modern forms of positivism, inspired largely by the theoretically sophisticated jurisprudential concepts associated with Hans Kelsen and HLA Hart, remain of any relevance for the international lawyer in this ‘post-modern’ age? The authors provide a wide variety of views and a stimulating debate about this family of approaches.

The book will be published in early 2014 with Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9781107019263.


The Editors


 Dr. Jean d’Aspremont

Prof. Jean d’Aspremont holds the Chair of Public International Law at the University of Manchester. He also is Professor of International Legal Theory at the University of Amsterdam.

Personal website


Dr Jörg Kammerhofer Senior Research Fellow/Senior Lecturer at the Hans Kelsen Research Group at the University of Freiburg.



Table of Contents


Chapter 1     Introduction: The Future of International Legal Positivism Jean d’Aspremont and Jörg Kammerhofer

I. Theorising International Legal Positivism

Chapter 2    
Classical Positivism in International Law Revisited (Richard Collins)

Chapter 3     German Intellectual Historical Origins of International Legal Positivism (Jochen von Bernstorff)

Chapter 4     Hans Kelsen in Today’s International Legal Scholarship (Jörg Kammerhofer)

Chapter 5     Herbert Hart in Today’s International Legal Scholarship (Jean d’Aspremont)

Chapter 6     Beyond Kelsen and Hart (Alexander Somek)

Chapter 7     Post-Modern Perspectives on Orthodox Positivism (Ingo Venzke)


II. Relating International Legal Positivism

Chapter 8     International Legal Positivism and Modern Natural Law (Patrick Capps)

Chapter 9     International Legal Positivism and Legal Realism (Jeremy Telman)

Chapter 10   International Legal Positivism and Constitutionalism (Jan Klabbers)

Chapter 11   International Legal Positivism and New Approaches to International Law (Sahib Singh)

III. Using International Legal Positivism

Chapter 12
   Interpretation (Gleider Hernández)

Chapter 13   Teaching General Public International Law (Florian Hoffmann)

Chapter 14   International Law in Domestic and Supranational Settings (Beatrice Bonafé)

Chapter 15   Transnational Governance Regimes (Dennis Patterson)

Chapter 16   Human Rights from a Neo-Voluntarist Perspective (Théodore Christakis)

Chapter 17   International Criminal Law (Dov Jacobs)

Chapter 18   International Humanitarian Law (Yael Ronen)

Chapter 19   Use of Force (Christian Tams and Antonios Tzanakopoulos)