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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Unilateralism/Multilateralism

André Nollkaemper

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved.date: 05 August 2021

Subject(s):
Act of state — Countermeasures — Regional co-operation — Unilateral acts — Codification — Customary international law — State practice — Erga omnes obligations

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 Unilateralism and multilateralism provide different answers to the question how States can or should address international issues. Unilateralism refers to an individualistic approach to foreign affairs. States do or should, depending on whether the concept is used as a basis of empirical or normative analysis, pursue their international aims individually, apart from other States. Unilateralist policies may involve both decisions of a State to act on its own (for instance an armed intervention) and decisions not to act (for instance a decision not to join a...
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