GCILS will welcome Professor Alex Stone Sweet (Hong Kong University) and Professor Mads Andenæs (University of Oslo) to discuss their article, ‘The Law and Politics of the General Principles of Law in the Twenty-First Century’, forthcoming in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

As per the request of the authors, attendees are strongly encouraged to read the manuscript prior to the event; it will be distributed via email after registration.

Location: Room 207, 10 Professors’ Square

Time: 3pm, Friday 1st December 2023

Registration: In-person attendance only. To attend, please register via Bookitbee.

Tea and coffee will be provided.

Poster with authors images and event details


The paper argues for the centrality of GPLs [general principles of law] as a primary source of international law. GPLs constitute basic building blocks of systemic coherence, both internally and between regimes (Part I). Focusing on them casts a bright light on judicial lawmaking, the fate of the “fragmentation” of international law, and inter-court dialogue. Debating the topic within the field of general public international law reveals fundamentally different “traditionalist” and “progressive” camps (Part II). In the meantime, the courts and tribunals of regional and specialized treaty regimes have constructed semi-autonomous domains of inter-locking principles, transcending juris-dictional boundaries, altering the nature and scope of international law and the decision-making of powerful domestic courts (Part V). The law and politics of GPLs have now become prominent, as the International Court of Justice (Part III) and the International Law Commission (Part IV) have recently moved to recognize, and contribute to, the development of GPLs. In the conclusion, we address an intractable dilemma: in developing principles, as a means of enhancing the effectiveness of international legal systems, judges reveal gaps between state consent and control, potentially undermining their own support.

Prof Alec Stone Sweet holds a Chair in the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong. He works in the fields of comparative and international politics, comparative and international law, international arbitration, and human rights. He has published thirteen books, ten with Oxford University Press, including: Proportionality Balancing and Constitutional Governance: A Comparative and Global Approach (2019); A Cosmopolitan Legal Order: Kant, Constitutional Justice, and the European Convention on Human Rights (2018); and The Evolution of International Arbitration: Judicialization, Governance, Legitimacy (2017).

Prof Mads Andenæs holds a Chair in the Faculty of Law, the University of Oslo (from 2008). He served as the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, of which he became a member in 2009 (his second and not renewable term expired in 2015). He is involved in research in the fields of international, EU and comparative law, and European and domestic private and regulatory law. He takes part in projects on the system and method of international law, human rights, the relationship between national law and European and international law, the formation of European private law and European and comparative company law and financial market regulation.