Public international law, although mostly composed of co-equal norms, shows some elements of hierarchy. At the top of this hierarchy, norms of ius cogens and obligations erga omnes are of a higher legal quality than the mass of ordinary norms. At its bottom, in the grey area between international ‘hard law’ and ‘soft law’, are an ever-growing number of amorphous ‘concepts’ and ‘principles’, whose nature and normative quality are far from clear. This is particularly true in the field of international environmental law, which shows certain patterns of ‘relative...
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