Uncertainty in International Law: A Kelsenian Perspective, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Uncertainty in International Law

A Kelsenian Perspective, 1st Edition

By Jörg Kammerhofer


288 pages

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Paperback: 9780415813518
pub: 2012-09-13
Hardback: 9780415577847
pub: 2010-07-07
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pub: 2010-07-12
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Re-engaging with the Pure Theory of Law developed by Hans Kelsen and the other members of the Viennese School of Jurisprudence, this book looks at the causes and manifestations of uncertainty in international law. It considers both epistemological uncertainty as to whether we can accurately perceive norms in international law, and ontological problems which occur inter alia where two or more norms conflict. The book looks at these issues of uncertainty in relation to the foundational doctrines of public international law, including the law of self-defence under the United Nations Charter, customary international law, and the interpretation of treaties.

In viewing international law through the lens of Kelsen’s theory Jörg Kammerhofer demonstrates the importance of the theoretical dimension for the study of international law and offers a critique of the recent trend towards pragmatism and eclecticism in international legal scholarship. The unique aspect of the monograph is that it is the only book to apply the Pure Theory of Law as theoretical approach to international law, rather than simply being a piece of intellectual history describing it.

This book will of great interest to students and scholars of public international law, legal theory and jurisprudence.


‘Kammerhofer’s efforts to maintain theoretical consistency are impressive. He advocates a form of scholarship not afraid to carry its analysis through ‘to the bitter end’, and wants to oppose any form of pragmatism that would bow to what is convenient or realistic within the everyday ‘realities’ of international law.’ - Joshua Paine for Leiden Journal of International Law

"Uncertainty in International Law is a rich and nuanced book from which any reader interested in international legal theory will benefit. Moreover, in respect of the main substantive questions it deals with – self-defence, customary international law and interpretation and modification of treaties – the book displays a wealth of rigorous thinking that facilitates navigation through the complexities of legal indeterminacy"

- The European Journal of International Law, Mónica García-Salmones Rovira

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Self-Defence under the United Nations Charter 3. Customary International Law 4. Interpretation and Modification 5. Conflict of Norms in International Law 6. A Constitution for International Law 7. The Inevitable Grundnorm

About the Author

Jörg Kammerhofer is a Senior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / International
LAW / Jurisprudence
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy