Hierarchy in International Law: The Place of Human Rights

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Erika De Wet, Jure Vidmar
OUP Oxford, Mar 1, 2012 - Law - 368 pages
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This book takes an inductive approach to the question of whether there is a hierarchy in international law, with human rights obligations trumping other duties. It assesses the extent to which such a hierarchy can be said to exist through an analysis of the case law of national courts. Each chapter of the book examines domestic case law on an issue where human rights obligations conflict with another international law requirement, to see whether national courts gave precedence to human rights. If this is shown to be the case, it would lend support to the argument that the international legal order is moving toward a vertical legal system, with human rights at its apex. In resolving conflicts between human rights obligations and other areas of international law, the practice of judicial bodies, both domestic and international, is crucial. Judicial practice indicates that norm conflicts typically manifest themselves in situations where human rights obligations are at odds with other international obligations, such as immunities; extradition and refoulement; trade and investment law; and environmental protection. This book sets out and analyses the relevant case law in all of these areas.

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About the author (2012)


Erika de Wet is Co-Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of International Law at the University of Pretoria. Between 2004 and 2010, she was a full-time (tenured) Professor of Constitutional Law at the Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam, a position which she still holds part-time. She further lectures in international law at the University of Zurich and the University of Bonn on a regular basis. Between 2007 and 2010 she served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Issues of Public International Law of the Netherlands (CAVV).

Jure Vidmar is an Anglo-German Fellow in the Institute of European and Comparative Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. Previously, Jure worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Amsterdam Center for International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam. He is a member of the editorial board of the Hague Yearbook of International Law. Jure's main research and teaching interests lie within public international law, human rights, European law, and political theory. In recent years, Jure's publications have mainly covered topics such as the creation, recognition and delimitation of states; human rights and democracy; the right of self-determination; the right to political participation and democratisation theory. Jure holds a doctorate in politics from the University of Salzburg as well as an LLM and PhD in law from the University of Nottingham.

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