Fragmentation in International Human Rights Law - Beyond Conflict of Laws

Ajevski, Marjan (2015). Fragmentation in International Human Rights Law - Beyond Conflict of Laws. In: Ajevski, Marjan ed. Fragmentation in International Human Rights Law: Beyond Conflict of Laws. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1–12.




Like tackling the mythical hydra, the attempt of defining fragmentation is fraught with peril. It seems that once one solves one head of complexity, two more pop up in its place. The struggle for definition starts with the idea of the existence of a unified legal order, that of international law, which is under threat of shattering under the pressure of divergent “self-contained” regimes. These regimes, the story goes, have their own law-making and law application rules and mechanisms as well as “rules concerning the consequences of breaches of their respective primary norms”. 1 However, once we start looking at how “self-contained” these regimes really are, we immediately notice their inter-relatedness in assumptions, sources, methods etc. both with general international law and amongst themselves. 2 So much for “autonomous systems decoupled from general international law”. 3 But this does not cure international lawyers’ anxieties, 4 unfortunately, for while these regimes may not be completely separate from international law, they still somehow threaten its unity by their ability to pronounce on issues relevant to international law and to do so in a way that conflicts with each other. In the proverbial state of nature without a hierarchical centre, what is to stop a normative conflict from ensuing, or so the fear goes.

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