Problem or Panacea? The Puzzle of General Principles of Law as a Source of International Law

Date & time
5.30–7.30pm Tuesday 15 June 2021

ANU College of Law Moot Courts

Associate Professor Imogen Saunders
Hon Justice James Edelman
Professor Hilary Charlesworth
Professor Anthea Roberts
Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL)
6125 5375
Book launch
Book Launch_General Principles as a Source of International Law

You are invited to the launch of Associate Professor Imogen Saunders’ new book General Principles as a Source of International Law: Article 38(1)(c) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

The book will be launched by the Hon Justice James Edelman (High Court of Australia) with a panel discussion between Justice Edelman, Professor Hilary Charlesworth (judge ad hoc to the International Court of Justice) and Professor Anthea Roberts (ANU School of Regulation & Global Governance).

The event will conclude with light refreshments.

About the book:

This book provides a comprehensive analysis of an often neglected, misunderstood and maligned source of international law. Article 38(1)(c) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice sets out that the Court will apply the 'general principles of law recognized by civilized nations'. This source is variously lauded and criticised: held up as a panacea to all international law woes or denied even normative validity. The contrasting views and treatments of General Principles stem from a lack of a model of the source itself. This book provides that model, offering a new and rigorous understanding of Article 38(1)(c) that will be of immense value to scholars and practitioners of international law alike.

At the heart of the book is a new tetrahedral framework of analysis - looking to function, type, methodology and jurisprudential legitimacy. Adopting an historical approach, the book traces the development of the source from 1875 to 2019, encompassing jurisprudence of the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Court of Justice as well as cases from international criminal tribunals, the International Criminal Court and the World Trade Organisation. The book argues for precision in identifying cases that actually apply General Principles, and builds upon these 'proper use' cases to advance a comprehensive model of General Principles, advocating for a global approach to the methodology of the source.


  • Associate Professor Imogen Saunders »

    Imogen Saunders

    Dr Imogen Saunders is a leading international law researcher.  Her work has been published in field leading journals such as the American Journal of International Law, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law and the Australian Yearbook of International Law. Her monograph on General Principles of Law as a source of international law (Article 38(1)(c) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice) is now out with Hart. Imogen is part of the three institution Backlashes Against International Law research collaberation. As well as the Backlash project, Imogen is currently working on projects on COVID-19 and international law and the history of women in international law.

  • Hon Justice James Edelman »

    James Edelman

    James Joshua Edelman was appointed to the Court in January 2017. From 2015 until the time of his appointment he was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. From 2011 until 2015 he was a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. He previously practised as a barrister at the chambers of Mr Malcolm McCusker QC in Western Australia from 2001-2011 in the areas of criminal law and commercial law and at One Essex Court Chambers from 2008-2011 in commercial law.He was a Fellow of Keble College, Oxford from 2005, and Professor of the Law of Obligations at the University of Oxford from 2008 until 2011.

  • Professor Hilary Charlesworth AM FASSA »

    Hilary Charlesworth

    Dr Hilary Charlesworth is a Melbourne Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School. She is also a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University. Her research includes the structure of the international legal system, human rights law and international humanitarian law, and international legal theory, particularly feminist approaches to international law. She is a member of the Institut de Droit International and served as Judge ad hoc in the International Court of Justice in the Whaling in the Antarctic case (Australia v Japan) (2011-2014). She is currently Judge ad hoc in the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 case (Guyana v Venezuela).

  • Professor Anthea Roberts »

    Anthea Roberts

    Dr Anthea Roberts is a Professor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) who specialises in public international law, international economic law, comparative international law, and the effect of geopolitical change on global governance. From 2008-2015, Anthea taught at the London School of Economics, Columbia Law School and Harvard Law School. In 2020, she was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School teaching Geoeconomics. Anthea chairs the ANU Working Group on Geoeconomics and is publishing a book with Professor Nicolas Lamp called Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why it Matters in October 2021 with Harvard University Press.

Research theme: 


Other events you may enjoy

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team