Normative Inconsistencies in the State System with Special Emphasis on International Law

A system of legal norms should be free of contradictions. The idea of justice is incompatible with an erratic interpretation and, subsequently, arbitrary application of norms. Systemic contradictions make actions by state authorities unpredictable. However, at the domestic as well as at the international level, considerations of power and interest have often made of the respective body of norms a "hermeneutical minefield." The international legal order contains contradictions even between the most basic principles such as state sovereignty, self-determination and the rules of international humanitarian law. While, at the national level, the authority of constitutional courts may help to eliminate contradictions and inconsistencies, there exists, apart from limited regional arrangements, no such separation of powers at the international level. The article analyzes the systemic, destabilizing impact of normative contradictions in exemplary cases related to the interpretation of the UN Charter and the system of international humanitarian and international criminal law.

Hans KŲchler

Retired Professor of Philosophy, University of Innsbruck, Austria; Co-President, International Academy of Philosophy; President of the International Progress Organization