Hierarchy in International Law: The Place of Human Rights

ISBN : 9780199647071

Erika de Wet; Jure Vidmar
366 Pages
164 x 245 mm
Pub date
Mar 2012
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This book takes an inductive approach to the question of whether there is a hierarchy in international law, with human rights obligations trumping other duties. It assesses the extent to which such a hierarchy can be said to exist through an analysis of the case law of national courts. Each chapter of the book examines domestic case law on an issue where human rights obligations conflict with another international law requirement, to see whether national courts gave precedence to human rights. If this is shown to be the case, it would lend support to the argument that the international legal order is moving toward a vertical legal system, with human rights at its apex. In resolving conflicts between human rights obligations and other areas of international law, the practice of judicial bodies, both domestic and international, is crucial. Judicial practice indicates that norm conflicts typically manifest themselves in situations where human rights obligations are at odds with other international obligations, such as immunities; extradition and refoulement; trade and investment law; and environmental protection. This book sets out and analyses the relevant case law in all of these areas.


1. Introduction
2. Norm Conflicts and Hierarchy in International Law: Towards a Vertical International Legal System?
3. Human Rights and United Nations Security Council Measures
4. Human Rights and the Immunities of Foreign States and International Organizations
5. Human Rights and the Immunities of State Officials
6. On the Hierarchy between Extradition and Human Rights
7. Human Rights, Refugees and Other Displaced Persons in International Law
8. Resolving Conflicts between Human Rights and Environmental Protection: Is there a Hierarchy?
9. Human Rights Dimensions of Investment Law
10. The Relationship between International Trade Law and International Human Rights Law
11. Conclusions

About the author: 

Erika de Wet is Co-Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of International Law at the University of Pretoria. Between 2004 and 2010, she was a full-time (tenured) Professor of Constitutional Law at the Amsterdam Center for International Law, University of Amsterdam, a position which she still holds part-time. She further lectures in international law at the University of Zurich and the University of Bonn on a regular basis. Between 2007 and 2010 she served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Issues of Public International Law of the Netherlands (CAVV).; Jure Vidmar is an Anglo-German Fellow in the Institute of European and Comparative Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. Previously, Jure worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Amsterdam Center for International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam. He is a member of the editorial board of the Hague Yearbook of International Law. Jure's main research and teaching interests lie within public international law, human rights, European law, and political theory. In recent years, Jure's publications have mainly covered topics such as the creation, recognition and delimitation of states; human rights and democracy; the right of self-determination; the right to political participation and democratisation theory. Jure holds a doctorate in politics from the University of Salzburg as well as an LLM and PhD in law from the University of Nottingham.

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