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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Legitimacy in International Law

Rüdiger Wolfrum

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved.date: 09 August 2022

Customary international law — Erga omnes obligations — Legitimacy

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 ‘legitimacy’ is used variably in literature. In the present context it is meant to refer to the justification of the exercise of public authority, the latter being understood as equivalent to having the power to take binding decisions. Such decisions may be general or specific in nature. Most of the literature cited below refers to ‘legitimacy in international law’ having models of legitimizing State authority in mind. The term ‘democratization of international law’ has also been used (Reisman). Legitimacy is to be distinguished from legality...
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