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Part IV Debates, Ch.46 International Legalism and International Politics

Florian Hoffmann

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 July 2024

Responsibility of international organizations — Customary international law — General principles of international law — Relationship of international law & host state law — Sources of international law

This chapter attempts to measure the gap between law and politics, in a recapitulation of where the liberal project of international law stands, as framed within the tensions evident in the international lawyers’ professional preference for legal objectivism and political agnosticism and, on the other hand, their equally professional unwillingness to openly admit to this preference. Legalism represents that gap, yet it is curiously everywhere and nowhere in international law, a paradox produced by the still empty space between the law and the political. But if one follows a historical-critical reading of international law, ‘legalism’ was already born as an ideological framework to defend a liberal internationalist project.

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