International Law and Domestic Courts: The International Legal System at the Quantum Level

This research project brings together the work done by Antonios Tzanakopoulos on the subject of relationship between international law and domestic (national) courts over the last few years.

A number of publications highlight different aspects of that relationship.

(a) They try to explain the reasons for the perceived increased engagement of domestic courts with international law, which is in part due to the changing nature of international legal norms from traditionally 'outward-looking' (state-to-state) to 'inward-looking' (obligating the state to take certain action within the domestic legal order.

(b) They map out the ways in which international law is 'domesticated', ie introduced into domestic legal orders, and, more importantly, the ways in which domestic courts engage with international law in the sense of different 'strategies' or 'postures' they adopt (avoidance, alignment, contestation).

(c) They discuss the dual role of domestic courts as both law-makers and law-enforcers in international law, making it difficult to determine whether they are actually a source of law, or a method of enforcement of the law, or indeed both, much like light may be both a wave and a particle.

(d) They focus on related issues, such as the influence of domestic courts' jurisprudence in the formation or interpretation of international law. 


Antonios's work on these issues has culminated in a lecture for the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law.

His work was also instrumental in the creation of a Study Group ('Principles on the Engagement of Domestic Courts with International Law) within the International Law Association which worked between 2011 and 2016 and presented its Final Report to the Association at the Johannesburg Conference in 2016. The Final Report is available to download from the ILA website as is the Resolution of the Association .


Antonios was invited to teach a Special Course on the subject in the summer session of the Xiamen Academy of International Law in 2017. 


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