Persons and Things in International Law and "Law of Humanity"

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    Drawing from Roberto Esposito's recent work on persons and things, this Article studies recent attempts to rethink international legal personality. Esposito's work resurrects the claim that personhood operates like a mask, splitting the legal and philosophical world into persons and things. International law differs from domestic law in that international legal personality has traditionally been the prerogative of states, not of (rational) individuals. Yet, this has not completely dismantled the persons/things logic, because the exclusive legal personality of states has continuously threatened to reduce individuals into things in the eyes of international law. It is perhaps for this reason that international legal theorists have long sought to extend international legal personality to individuals and other non-state actors. This Article addresses the most recent attempt, namely an attempt to shift international law towards a law of humanity. Without taking a stance on whether this project is a good idea or not, this Article raises some doubts about whether the concept of international legal personality can help in fulfilling the project's aim, namely to help increase human freedom and wellbeing. This is especially relevant because, regardless of whether legal personality is attributed primarily to the state or the individual, we still remain—according to Esposito—within a theoretical framework in which the dispositif of person necessarily excludes some forms of life in protecting or empowering others.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGerman law journal
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)1163-1182
    Number of pages20
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Fields of Science

    • 513 Law

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