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International law reconceptualised: the role of NGOs.

Iloka, Uche




International law has largely adhered to its traditional foundations, centring upon states as the pre-eminent actors. States have generally remained as the main subjects of international law, and state-centric considerations such as their jurisdiction, sovereignty and relations with other states, the law's main concern. There has been a general lack of attention, or sufficient attention, to the 'other' international players now common in the twenty-first century. This is concerning. A greater recognition and acceptance of these 'other' international players is needed, and this could lead to the reconceptualisation of international law in the twenty-first century. The development of international law from the central tenets of its Westphalian inception to a form that adequately reflects modern international society is required. A failure of evolution could bring about its irrelevance. The reconceptualisation of the paradigm of international law in a way that makes it more reflective of contemporary realities would lead to its enduring relevance. A failure to adapt could be its downfall. The Westphalian conception of international law can be seen as the glue that holds the international legal framework together; shaping and defining the space within which states relate. However, in the twenty-first century, other actors have come to play a real role in that international space, and have done so actively and relevantly. Expectedly, the proliferation of activities by these new players in the international space has worn the adhesive attribute of the proverbial glue of the Westphalian notion of international law. It is becoming more apparent that the reconceptualisation of the international legal paradigm is necessary. Amongst the new players, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a prominent role. NGOs have played and continue to play a highly relevant and important role in today's global community. Their influence and impact are becoming increasingly pivotal to the legal, social, economic and political construct of today's global community, and their role remains central to the reconceptualisation of international law and the international legal framework. This thesis argues that NGOs must play a central role in the imperative that is the reconceptualisation of the international legal paradigm to maintain its fitness for purpose in the face of globalisation.


ILOKA, U. 2020. International law reconceptualised: the role of NGOs. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 3, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 3, 2021
Keywords International law; Non-governmental organisations; Non-state actors Sovereignty; United Nations; Globalisation; Global governance; Legal pluralism
Public URL
Award Date Sep 30, 2020


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