Are there any inherently public functions for international law?

Eyal Benvenisti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Are There 'Inherently Sovereign Functions' in International Law?, Frédéric Mégret provides a deeply insightful reflection on the essence of the state from the point of view of international law, outlining a theory about the inherently sovereign functions in international law. He carefully identifies existing norms of international law that articulate certain public functions to be performed solely by the state rather than delegating them to private actors. Mégret offers functional and intrinsic rationales, suggesting that individuals have a right to benefit from certain public functions exercised by state authority, such as legislation and adjudication, what perhaps could be termed the human right to the state. In this essay, I suggest that it is indeed possible to derive such demands from the requirements of stable and sustainable governance that are embedded in the concept of sovereign responsibility, as well as from the rights associated with democracy and self-determination. I further argue that Mégret's inquiry can and must be extended also to explore the other side of the coin: the role of international law in facilitating (and possibly limiting) the delegation of public authority to unaccountable international organizations and other global governance bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-306
Number of pages5
JournalAJIL Unbound
StatePublished - 13 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


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