Essays on Sovereignty, Non-State Actors and Human Rights

Robert McCorquodale

International Law Beyond The State draws together a collection of thought-provoking essays by a leading Professor of International Law and Human Rights, Robert McCorquodale. These deal with some of the key issues necessary to understand the changing international legal system, such as the role of non-state actors, how human rights are applied and the developing ideas of sovereignty in the contemporary international community. He shows how international law is no longer the preserve of states alone.

The first part of this collection considers the development of international human rights law. It examines some of the broad impacts on international human rights law, such as self-determination, globalisation, and the actions of non-state actors. These have each created significant impacts on the protection of human rights, the understanding of international human rights law and on the daily lives of many people. They also indicate aspects of a range of human rights, from economic, social and cultural rights, to civil and political rights, and to collective rights.

The second part of this collection explores the broader aspects of the international legal system and how it has been challenged and affected by international human rights law. This effect is due to the confrontation that international human rights law makes to the traditional or dominant view of the international legal system as solely a state-consent based system. While international human rights law is itself constrained within a state-based structure – being largely based on treaties between states and as it places direct legal obligations only on states - its focus on the relationship between an individual (or a group) and the state is in direct contrast with the traditional international law state-to-state relationship based on reciprocity of obligations.

Because of its different relationship, international human rights law enables individuals and other non-state actors to have a broader and deeper participation in the system, which is not one based on nationality or diplomatic protection alone – and so to participate in the development of the law. These developments have potentially significant effects on some supposedly core and fixed elements of the international legal system, such as how international law is created, developed and enforced. There are three key areas where this can be seen: who are the participants in the international legal system; the territorial and jurisdictional powers and responsibilities of states; and on sovereignty and the nature of the international legal system itself.


Robert McCorquodale is Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham. He has been at the University of Nottingham since 2000 and was Head of the School of Law there for four years. Previously he was Associate Professor, and sometime Head of the School of Law, at the Australian National University (1995–2000), Fellow and Lecturer in Law at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge (1988-1995), and practising solicitor at Herbert Smith, London and Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Sydney (1982–1987).

He was educated at the University of Sydney and the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Cases and Materials on International Law (with Martin Dixon) and editor of a number of volumes, including Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Action (with Mashood Baderin), Human Rights, and Self-Determination in International Law. He has published a large number of articles and chapters in books, as well as being on the Editorial Boards of a number of journals, including the International and Comparative Law Quarterly and the Human Rights Law Review. He has also provided advice to governments, corporations, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, individuals and peoples concerning international law and human rights issues, including advising on the drafting of new constitutions and conducting human rights training courses.

ISBN 10: 1 907174 10 9

ISBN 13: 978 1 907174 10 0

• Hardback • 2011 • £135.00