International Soft Law, Hard Law, and Coherence

31 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2008

Date Written: March 1, 2008


A rule of law is a norm coupled with coercive power. International soft law is only the norm. There is a vast number of such non-coercive norms, and many recent papers have been preoccupied with their apparent normative tilt toward respect for human rights and democracy. In criticizing the entire soft-law enterprise, I feel like the Grinch who stole Christmas. But I do try to put in a good word or two for the time-honored sources of the 4000 year-old public international law. This paper will be a chapter in the forthcoming The Philosophy of International Law, to be published by Oxford University Press.

Keywords: soft law, customary law, hard law

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

D'Amato, Anthony, International Soft Law, Hard Law, and Coherence (March 1, 2008). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 08-01, Available at SSRN: or

Anthony D'Amato (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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