The International Legal System in Quest of Equity and Universality

Liber amicorum Georges Abi-Saab

Georges Abi-Saab began his writing and teaching at a time when the process of decolonization, and thereafter the quest for emancipation, began to make its far-reaching impact on the international scene, producing significant changes in the international environment, both quantitatively in increasing the number of nation-States and qualitatively in changing patterns of interests and claims. This was bound to result in new pressures on the international legal system itself and in a questioning of the traditional Eurocentric content of international law.
In his work and teaching Professor Abi-Saab viewed the dynamics of international law as a function of two driving forces: the emergence of the third world and the sense of injustice. In his view, the first driving force - the emergence of the third world - raised the problem of exclusion: exclusion from participation in the elaboration of international law and the decision-making process, and exclusion as beneficiaries of the resulting rules of international law. At the same time, this new force introduced diversity into the international scene, reflecting the richness of the international community in its different facets. This process remains relevant today, reflecting the contemporary problem of exclusion of new actors as well as their quest for participation.
The second driving force - the sense of injustice - posed a teleological problem for him, that of defining community values in order that they capture the different facets of justice, whether formal or distributive. So long as there is no effective organic structure, international law in his view will continue to remain effectiveness-oriented, reflecting rather than impacting on the structures of power. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that there is an on-going process of development of community values and interests; as Georges Abi-Saab wrote with reference to international crimes: `law, like all social phenomena, is a continuous unfolding, a continuous process of elaboration'.
He has also considered that the dynamics of the international legal process itself can be captured from the perspective of international organizations as vehicles for change in the international system. From his early writings, Georges Abi-Saab approached the United Nations Charter as a blueprint - both normative and institutional - for a certain type of international society. International institutions with all their imperfections, continue for him to be the means of realization of the law of cooperation which lies at the heart of his concept of the international system.
The themes selected for this volume in honour of Professor Georges Abi-Saab are intended to reflect his unique and pioneering contribution to the field of international law. The contributors are drawn from what he has always considered to be his large `family' of former students: in his forty years of teaching, Georges Abi-Saab has acted as mentor to generations of students from all over the world who have benefited from his vision, insights, originality and creative and stimulating use of language. The contributors also include colleagues and friends who share a similar vision of the international legal system.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

E-Book (PDF)
The editors of this festschrift have managed to assemble a great number of excellent authors to honour Professor Georges Abi-Saab. Without a doubt this festschrift is not only a fine tribute to Georges Abi-Saab but also an enrichment to every international law library.

Stephan Wittich in Austrian Review of International and European Law, volume 7, 2004.
The link to the Table of Contents can be found in the Extra column on the right side of the screen.
  • Collapse
  • Expand