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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Aoife O'Donoghue

O'Donoghue, Aoife (2012). Splendid Isolation: International Humanitarian Law, Legal Theory and the International Legal Order. Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 14(1): 107-131.

Author(s) from Durham


International humanitarian law (IHL) is one of the oldest and most distinctive sectors of the international legal order. IHL’s historical development has been unique; from one of the original focal points of international law it has since become a highly specialised area, isolated from the broader international legal academic debate. The most obvious example of this isolation is the lack of discussion of the place of IHL in contemporary debates on the future of international law such as fragmentation and constitutionalisation. The reasons for this isolation are manifold, however, given IHL’s position as a prime example of fragmentation and the issues it raises for constitutionalisation it is questionable whether these debates can be conclusive until they tackle the issues presented by this particular body of law. This ‘splendid isolation’ is detrimental to both the contemporary international legal debate and IHL.


Vol. 14 editors: Michael N.Schmitt, Louise Arimatsu