Originally uploaded in SSRN. A chapter in Fundamental Concepts for International Law: The Construction of a Discipline (Jean d’Aspremont & Sahib Singh, eds.) (Edward Elgar, 2019).


A danger, an opportunity, passé, a cliché, destabilizing, empowering, destructive, creative: Depending on whom you ask, fragmentation has meant any and all of these for international law. The concept of fragmentation has been a mirror reflecting international lawyers’ perception of themselves, their field, and its prospects for the future.

This chapter chronicles fragmentation’s meanings over the past few decades. In particular, it focuses on the spreading fears of fragmentation around the millennium, how the fears were eventually repurposed, where, speculatively, those fear may have gone, and how and to what extent faith in international law was restored.