Soft Law

Authored by: Dinah Shelton

Routledge Handbook of International Law

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  January  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415418768
eBook ISBN: 9780203884621
Adobe ISBN: 9781134113095


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The conventional understanding of international law sees its “legal” nature as deriving from the consent of states to binding obligations. However, states have engaged in a host of other normative commitments through means such as declarations and General Assembly resolutions that, while not having the binding force of formal treaties, may still have law-like consequences of the kind that the term “soft law” has been coined to describe. In practice, the distinction between “hard” and “soft” law may become increasingly blurred over time.

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