Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


Dr. Miro Cerar


This article examines some basic characteristics of the relationship between national and international law and politics. The law functions in relation to politics in three basic aspects, namely as a goal, a means, or an obstacle. First, politics can define certain predominantly legal values or institutions as its goal. In this case the political understanding of these values or institutions becomes almost identical to an authentic legal understanding of the same values or institutions. Second, politics can comprehend the law merely as a means for the fulfillment of certain political interests. In this case politics is neutral in its attitude toward the law. Finally, politics can interpret law as an obstacle on the way toward the realization of certain political goals. In this situation either politics prevails over law, or vice versa. In the first case politics effectuates its solutions at the expense of the rule of law, while in the second case the autonomy of law is preserved through the decisions of the highest courts or by other actions taken by lawyers, intellectuals, associations, organizations, and the public in order to stop illicit acts of political actors. Law and politics create their own particular pictures of reality. Sometimes those pictures overlap, sometimes they differ. Yet, there is something that the law should never include in its sphere; namely, the differentiation of adversaries according to a purely political criterion. This leads to a strict separation between "ours" and "yours", or, in its most radical expression, to a strict separation between friend and enemy. When the latter occurs, politics inevitably prevails over the law, and reduces or damages the autonomy of the rule of law.

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