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1 Nature, Meaning, and Function of General Principles of Law in International Law

From: A Guide to General Principles of Law in International Investment Arbitration

Patrick Dumberry

From: Investment Claims (http://oxia.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. date: 28 November 2023

Investment — General principles of international law — Arbitration

This chapter discusses the nature, meaning, and function of the general principles of law (GPL) in international law. While the matter has been contested by some authors in the past, it is now settled that GPL are a formal source of international law. Just like treaties and custom, GPL are a means for the creation of the law. GPL are therefore an authoritative and, most importantly, an autonomous source of law which can be used by international judges and arbitrators in the context of a dispute involving questions of international law. The chapter then considers the three different conceptions of GPL under general public international law as well as in the specific context of investment arbitration. Meanwhile, GPL serve a gap-filling function. It has been noted by some authors that international law is more susceptible to needing GPL to fill gaps than other legal orders. In addition, GPL are a source of interpretation for uncertain and ambiguous treaty and custom norms.

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