The Concept of ‘Legal Policy’ in International Jurisprudence

Document Type : Original Article


Faculty of Law


The prevailing narrative in international legal scholarship has always been that international courts and tribunals have faced objective legal rules to be applied completely to concrete cases. According to this viewpoint, the principles and rules of international law should not be interpreted through presuppositions, and that one should always adjudicate impartially. Presenting the epistemological explanation of applying abstract rules to concrete cases, the present article defends the claim that there is no interpretation without presuppositions, and that some certain extra-legal assumptions always channelize the understanding and interpretation of the norm concerned. Accordingly, the concept of ‘legal policy’ in international law can be unveiled which so far has not been a matter for consideration so much and, at best, it has been considered as an equivalence for the term ‘judicial policy’. Legal policy in international law carries the message that there is no single ‘right answer’ for each legal issue, and that international courts and tribunals cannot lay the blame upon others who create the law by a mere mechanical application of detached rules from realities of international community. One should always bear in mind that the line of demarcation between lex lata and lex ferenda is not a positive rule, but a theoretical construct and therefore, fluid.


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