State Consent between Regionalism and Universalism: Particular Customary International Law before the International Court of Justice

Event date
3 February 2022
Event time
12:45 - 14:00
Oxford week
HT 3
Online via Zoom
Freya Baetens, Professor of Public International Law

If you wish to participate in this (remote) seminar, RSVP is necessary. Please complete the Registration Form before 5:30pm on Wednesday 2 February (please note that if you register after 5:30pm, a link may not be sent to you).  Prior to the Thursday seminar, you will be sent a Zoom link to join.

The term ‘regional international law’ captures the set of rules that apply in the relations between States in a certain region. It is often defined by reference to—and potentially in contradistinction to—universal international law. At its heart lies a reaction against the assertion of an international legal system with universal application—perhaps ironically, a system of a distinctive regional (European) origin itself. This paper examines how the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has addressed claims based on ‘regional’ customary international law showing that it is not the concept of a geographical region but rather the consent of particular States that matters for the formation of non-universal customary international law, making it preferable to use the term ‘particular customary international law’ instead. Based on the assessed claims, the paper highlights the parallels between the making of such particular customary international law and treaty law. Finally, it is demonstrated that, although regionalist considerations are recognised by the ICJ, they are first converted to the classic currencies of international law: universality and State consent.

Professor Freya Baetens is an incoming Professor of Public International Law in the Law Faculty at the University of Oxford, where she will also become the Head of Programmes at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and a governing body fellow at Mansfield College. Before coming to Oxford, Professor Baetens served as the Professor of Public International Law at the PluriCourts Centre of Excellence (Faculty of Law, Oslo University) where she worked on an interdisciplinary research project evaluating the legitimacy of international courts and tribunals. She is also affiliated with the Europa Institute (Faculty of Law, Leiden University).  She undertook her doctoral research at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Baetens’ range of research interests include international human rights law, the responsibility of states and international organisations, WTO and investment law, energy law and sustainable development. She is also a practitioner of public international law. As a Member of the Brussels Bar, she regularly acts as counsel or expert in international and European disputes before courts such as the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.


Due to the current public health emergency, the PIL Discussion Group series for 2021-2022 continues to be held online. RSVP is necessary for each event. A link to the Registration Form will be available on the relevant event page prior to each event. Please complete this form to register your attendance and, prior to the event, you will be sent a Zoom link to join the discussion. Please note that if you complete the form after the deadline of noon on the preceding Wednesday, you may not receive the link to join.

The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford and hosts regular speaker events. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.

PIL Discussion Group Convenors: Xiaotian Yu and Natasha Holcroft-Emmess

The Discussion Group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.

The speaker will commence at 12:45pm UK Time and speak for around forty minutes, allowing about twenty-five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude before 2pm UK Time.

Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome.

Found within

Public International Law