We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Towards a Human-Centred International Law: Self-Determination and the Structure of the International Legal System

SPARKS, THOMAS,MATTHEW,SMITH (2017) Towards a Human-Centred International Law: Self-Determination and the Structure of the International Legal System. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).



In recent years a number of scholars (most notably Anne Peters, Christian Tomuschat, Ruti Teitel and Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade) have identified an ongoing process of change in the international legal system’s relationship with individuals and groups of individuals. That change has been referred to as a humanisation of international law. This thesis contributes to that area of study by offering an account of the deep level changes to the foundations of the international legal system, which it argues are both driving and are recursively driven by changes in substantive international law. It finds the explanation for these changes in the idea of the self-determination of the individual, and it argues that this concept has now become a structural principle (a term borrowed from Giddens, 1984) of the international legal system.

The thesis takes a twin methodological approach to the question, using both an analysis of the history of ideas and a sociological lens (particularly Giddens’s theory of structuration) to demonstrate that the foundations of the international legal order have changed through time, and that the operation and scope of the system’s basic concepts has altered concomitantly. It argues that the institution of a principle of self-determination as the structural principle of the system is another such change, and one that will produce the kind of changes in the substance and operation of international law that have been identified by Peters and others. Its finding that the interests of individuals and of communities are now embedded in international law at the structural level strongly supports the conclusion that Peters and others have drawn from the examination of substantive international law, that there is a process of humanisation occurring, and that the humanisation process is occurring at all levels within the system.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Public International Law; Legal Theory; Sociology of Law; Self-Determination; Humanisation; Human-Centred International Law; Sovereignty; Statehood; Obligation; Personality; Ius Cogens; Structuration
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Dec 2017 12:02

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter