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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Sources of International Law

Rüdiger Wolfrum

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved.date: 07 October 2022

Customary international law — General principles of international law — Peremptory norms / ius cogens — Equity — Lex specialis — State practice

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law under the direction of Professor Anne Peters (2021–) and Professor Rüdiger Wolfrum (2004–2020). 

1 The term ‘source of law’ may mean different things. It may refer to either historical, ethical, social, or other bases for a legal rule, or it may refer to legal rules as such (Abi Saab 31). The notion will be used here in the latter sense.2 Speaking of ‘sources of international law’ presupposes that there exist legal, ie binding, rules in international law. This view is not uncontested and, apart from that, those who take that view advance different reasons why international law consists of binding rules.3 Generally speaking, those who argue that international...
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