Blutman Lays Out Fresh Framework for Approaching Customary International Law

By William Stroupe

An article by legal theorist László Blutman recently published in the in the Hungarian Yearbook of International Law entitled “Law in Mind: Towards an Explanatory Framework for Customary Law” presents an innovative, monist, intersubjective theoretical approach to international law. The piece rejects understanding customary international law based on the objectivist/materialist treatment of written law for failing to account for the fact that general practice is not necessarily representative of material reality. Blutman proposes an alternate framework in which customary law emerges as a product of an intersubjective reality through justified attribution. Because the approach can be used for written law as well, it unifies traditionally bipartite theoretical approaches to international law. This new approach, along with the forthcoming publication of the first edition of the Oxford Handbook of Theory of International Law in 2016 suggest interesting times for International Legal Theory.