Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Why Is International Law Changing? Primary Factors in the Greater Complexity of International Law
ExpressO (2013)
  • Marcelo Dias Varella

This paper examines factors of change in post-national law, particularly the effects of globalization on the international legal order. The end of the cold enabled the strengthening of international law through new legal norms and the emergence of post-national law. Among the principal factors accelerating the internationalization of law has been the emergence of a multipolar political and economic order. In the political realm, the end of the bipolar system between the United States and the Soviet Union allowed the emergence of various actors and made possible the construction of power in the international sphere through legal rules. Economically, a number of powers have ascended, including the European Union, Japan, and China, as well as less important ones, such as Brazil, India, and Russia and various non-state actors. Meanwhile, multinational corporations, which control a growing portion of the global market of goods and services—and are interested in the global standardization of business practices—have grown in importance. But so have decentralized networks of economic actors organized in transnational production chains. In civil society non-governmental organizations are ascending, with resources and knowledge that influence the consolidation of political regimes. In the scientific realm greater importance is placed on experts, specialists, and scientists who define the paths and expand the limits of human possibility. Technological change brings cultures together, enables economic interaction, and, through new systems of communication, alters the relationship between time and space. Revolutionary methods of communication such as the Internet, the proliferation of satellites, and near-universal access to cellular telephones have drastically reduced physical and psychological distances among domestic and international actors. While this new context brings numerous positive effects, it also imposes a reality of crises and necessitates an involuntary community of states to address common risks. Crises likewise occur in different branches of law and facilitate its internationalization. Transnational and multinational crimes, including terrorism, have intensified. The increased number of environmental catastrophes can only be managed through the cooperative effort of states. This paper highlights several key forces that push the legal system toward internationalization and impose new perceptions and outcomes in its relationship with foreign and international systems. This paper shows the international law is much more complex than it used to be. There are multiple networks that influence international order and the very idea of sources and subjects of international law must be reconsidered.

  • International Law,
  • Complexity,
  • Subjects,
  • Sources of International Law,
  • Adjudication
Publication Date
April 29, 2013
Citation Information
Marcelo Dias Varella. "Why Is International Law Changing? Primary Factors in the Greater Complexity of International Law" ExpressO (2013)
Available at: