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International Law Beyond The State draws together a collection of thought-provoking essays by a leading Professor of International Law and Human Rights, Robert McCorquodale. These deal with some of the key issues necessary to understand the changing international legal system, such as the role of non-state actors, how human rights are applied and the developing ideas of sovereignty in the contemporary international community. He shows how international law is no longer the preserve of states alone.
The first part of this collection considers the development of international human rights law. It examines some of the broad impacts on international human rights law, such as self-determination, globalisation, and the actions of non-state actors. These have each created significant impacts on the protection of human rights, the understanding of international human rights law and on the daily lives of many people. They also indicate aspects of a range of human rights, from economic, social and cultural rights, to civil and political rights, and to collective rights.
The second part of this collection explores the broader aspects of the international legal system and how it has been challenged and affected by international human rights law. This effect is due to the confrontation that international human rights law makes to the traditional or dominant view of the international legal system as solely a state-consent based system. While international human rights law is itself constrained within a state-based structure – being largely based on treaties between states and as it places direct legal obligations only on states - its focus on the relationship between an individual (or a group) and the state is in direct contrast with the traditional international law state-to-state relationship based on reciprocity of obligations.
Because of its different relationship, international human rights law enables individuals and other non-state actors to have a broader and deeper participation in the system, which is not one based on nationality or diplomatic protection alone – and so to participate in the development of the law. These developments have potentially significant effects on some supposedly core and fixed elements of the international legal system, such as how international law is created, developed and enforced. There are three key areas where this can be seen: who are the participants in the international legal system; the territorial and jurisdictional powers and responsibilities of states; and on sovereignty and the nature of the international legal system itself.