The Power of Legality and the Changing Practices of International Law

This project theoretically examines the role of international law in international relations and the complex interplay between law and and politics across different issue areas.

International law has been substantially growing both in scope and depth during the past decades. New legal institutions have emerged, and increasing supervisory and adjudicatory powers have been granted to several institutions within existing regimes. As a result, international law is no longer just the Buchrecht of past generations, and “legality” today commands substantial currency in world affairs.

Contrary to traditional conceptions of international law, none of these developments have ended political struggles about and around international law. Rather, it has changed the politics of international law and in some cases created an increasing playing for states and other actors that seek to use, influence and contest the way that international law is being applied.

This project is based on various empirical case studies across a range of fields, including human rights law and international humanitarian law. The project has so far resulted in two book projects:

Nikolas Rajkovic, Tanja Aalberts and Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, eds., The Power of Legality: International Law and its Practices (Cambridge University Press 2016)

Tanja Aalberts and Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, eds., The Changing Practices of Interantional Law (under review, expected out 2016/2017).


Period: 2013-2017

Project owner:


– EU COST Project IS1003

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