Unlocking Boundaries: Law Reform and the progressive development of International Law

Cecilia Juliana Flores Elizondo, Sufyan Droubi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Law reform in international law is crucial to address the most pressing global challenges. The chapter builds on boundaries to critically investigate and address the challenges that international law reform mechanisms, institutions, and projects face. The chapter situates the critical analysis in the interplay between symbolic and social boundaries, their institutionalisation in scholarship and practice, which informs our critique of said law reform initiatives. The focus is on the struggles amongst actors at the intersubjective level, leading to conceptual distinctions used to categorise legal fields over time and space (symbolic boundaries), which often materialise in social boundaries that are progressively institutionalised, to constrain access to resources. The chapter uses investor-state dispute settlement, and the renewables cases against Spain, as a case study on the manner that boundaries may jeopardise the ability of reform initiatives to tackle climate change, to explore how symbolic boundaries – field, time and space – become entrenched in theory and practice, acting as a barrier to reform international law. We argue that boundaries, as a critical lens, can contribute to unravel the identities and categories that become institutionalised in international law, acting as gatekeepers of law reform to address global problems holistically.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw Reforms Around the World
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from National and International Law
EditorsAsif H Qureshi
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781003329688
ISBN (Print)9781032359861
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in International Law


  • Law reform
  • International law
  • ISDS
  • Symbolic boundaries
  • Institutions
  • Renewables
  • Energy transition
  • Climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • General Social Sciences


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