The present paper examines the particular difficulties observed in the formation, identification and continuity of local custom in the light of the interaction that exists between it and two main sources of international law: general custom and treaty. The article firstly argues that, although local custom presents certain features and faces specific difficulties that distinguishes it from both general custom and treaty, it generally follows the “custom logic” in its formation and identification, as both local and general customs are made from the same “ingredients”: practice and opinio juris. However, the situation is different when it comes to the continuity of an existing local customary rule. The article shows that the succession of States may call into question the continuity of local custom which operates as a treaty in case of State succession, following the “treaty logic” rather than the “custom logic”.
Non-state actors can contribute to shaping customary law indirectly, through inspiration and pressure, or formally when so empowered by States. Decisions on granting non-state actors customary law-making capacities must be critically decided on a case-by-case basis, in light of the legal interests at stake, risks of making regulation subservient to their interests, and legitimacy and effectiveness considerations. Since non-state involvement in the formation or change of customary law is not limited to direct law-making capacities, different strategies can be used to both receive their input and promote their acceptance of and respect of customary law. Internal and international democratization of State decisions and collective law-making are essential if the (currently) mostly-State-centric system of custom determination is to be fair. This demands a duty to examine non-state proposals in good faith.
Over the last few decades, the methodology for the identification of customary international law (cil) has been changing. Both elements of cil – practice and opinio juris – have assumed novel and broader forms, as noted in the Reports of the Special Rapporteur of the International Law Commission (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). This contribution discusses these Reports and the draft conclusions, and reaction by States in the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (unga), highlighting the areas of consensus and contestation. This ties to the analysis of the main doctrinal positions, with special attention being given to the two elements of cil, and the role of the unga resolutions. The underlying motivation is to assess the real or perceived crisis of cil, and the author develops the broader argument maintaining that in order to retain unity within international law, the internal limits of cil must be carefully asserted.
The present work addresses the role of un in the formation of customary international law from a constructivist perspective. It dialogues with the International Law Commission and, in contrast with the latter, it argues that the importance of the un is a matter to be defined empirically. Its organs are capable of acting as norm entrepreneurs, articulating and promoting new norms. They are capable of affecting social processes in order to create pressure on the states that resist emergent norms. Thus, instead of a mere agent of states the un is capable of deeply influencing them both in behavioural and attitudinal terms. Furthermore, the un promote the formalization and institutionalization of new norms, elucidating their scope, application, and embedding them in consistently coherent amalgamation of norms and practices. Hence, it is capable of fostering the processes that lead to the crystallization of norms as customary international law.
This editorial seeks to explore the creative reactions of intergovernmental organizations ('IGOs') in times of global crisis. With emphasis on recent health and economic crises and the response of IGOs including the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, the editorial shows that crises have strengthened the institutional and law-making power of the IGOs that are forced to deal with them. Certain common elements emerge from this discussion, including the more prominent role that the leadership and Secretariats of IGOs regularly play in crises, the wider range of institutions and groups with which IGOs are prepared to closely collaborate in order to deal with new issues, and the increased prevalence of creative and informal law-making by IGOs as part of their institutional responses to challenges.