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We live in a kaleidoscopic world in the new Anthropocene Epoch. This calls for a more inclusive public international law that accepts diverse actors in addition to States and other sources of law, including individualized voluntary commitments. Norms are critical to the stability and legitimacy of this international system. They underlie responses to rapid change, to new technological developments and to problems of protecting commons, promoting public goods, and providing social and economic justice. Certain fundamental norms can be identified ; others are emerging. The norm of mutual accountability underpins the implementation of other norms. Norms are especially relevant to frontier doit-yourself technologies, such as synthetic biology, digital currencies, cyber activity, and climate interventions, as addressed in the book. Reconceiving public international law lessens the sharp divide between public and private law and between domestic and international law.
Professor Weiss combines thorough research and careful analysis with imaginative solutions and a moral fervor. She shows how rules of international law can be applied in an intertemporal dimension, and how the basic principles of the intergenerational equity can be developed to provide new standards for human behavior. She manages to communicate to the reader not only that the situation is getting desperate but also that human intelligence can in time devise adequate remedies, without destroying completely our way of life.

Louis B. Sohn

Woodruff Professor of International Law

Published under the Transnational Publishers imprint.
The fresh water crisis is the new environmental crisis of the 21st century. By 2050, 993 million people are projected to live in cities with perennial water shortages; 3.1 billion will confront seasonal water shortages within their urban areas. The traditional legal principles upon which existing water management is based are likely to be insufficient to deal with the water problems that loom from projected climate change, population growth, food production, increased industrialization, and ecosystem needs.

This volume, a fully revised and expanded version of the lectures given by the author at the Hague Academy of International Law in 2007, focuses on the evolution of international water law in the context of this changing world. Chapter I covers the basic principles of international water law. Chapter II offers a critique of international water law and challenges for the future. Chapter III analyses the evolution of international water agreements over the past two centuries. The analysis draws upon empirical data from more than 2,000 international agreements in a database developed by the author. Chapter IV focuses on the different techniques for resolving disputes and the international fora for doing so. Chapter V considers international institutions associated with international water agreements. Chapter VI addresses the issue of a human right to water and the right of indigenous peoples to water. Chapter VII analyses the implications of international water markets for international trade law, and vice versa, and addresses increasingly important issues associated with virtual water.


The COVID-19 crisis illustrates the workings of a kaleidoscopic world, in which patterns rapidly change, many actors beyond States are critical, flexible instruments are imperative, and scientific knowledge is evolving. The kaleidoscopic world sharply contrasts with the traditional view of an international system dominated by States in a rather static order in which States negotiate and implement binding agreements. Controlling the virus is a public goods problem that shows the need for rapid and flexible responses by governments and others and collective actions at the local, regional, and global levels. At the same time, it is a private goods problem, as in development of a vaccine by private companies, which calls for public-private collaboration. The COVID-19 crisis reveals the need to reconceptualize public international law to broaden its scope, to include relevant actors beyond States, to encompass many kinds of legal instruments, and to recognize the imperative need for shared norms.

Open Access
In: Crisis Narratives in International Law
In: Coexistence, Cooperation and Solidarity (2 vols.)
In: Establishing Norms in a Kaleidoscopic World
In: Establishing Norms in a Kaleidoscopic World