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Legal Orders in Motion: Sudanese customary Laws in International Peacebuilding

Philippe’s research investigates transnational legal pluralism in the context of international peacebuilding. Drawing on the critique of the neoliberal turn in the realist theory of international law (Dezalay & Garth, 2002; Slaughter, 2004; Mattei, 2008), Philippe deconstructs the peacebuilding model from a legal perspective and considers it as a technology of state reconstruction devoid of the concept of sovereignty. The peacebuilding model therefore reconfigures the international legal system away from its so-called original subjects to open up to diversified sets of actors, procedures, institutions, and normative bodies. Philippe resorts to legal formalism and to the Italian institutional theory of the legal order that goes beyond a mere static and hierarchical body of norms so as to include these actors, institutions and procedures (Romano, 2002 [1918]; Santulli, 2001). This approach allows to circumvent the theory of statuses in legal positivism, to bypass the paradigm of normativity as the cornerstone of legal science, and to understand legal order as an on-going re-construction resulting from the permanent interplay between changing legal institutions, procedures, actors, and the norms they produce.

Philippe then builds on translation theory (Boltanksi, 1991; Santulli, 2001) to determine how Sudanese local communities negotiate or resist the peacebuilding re-structuring of the state and of customary legal orders. He investigates the ways local legal actors and institutions in Darfur and South Kordofan accommodate – or instead escape – international legal statuses to build their international legal capacity and protect their interests. He finally examines processes of normative swapping between customary legal orders and various other legal orders in terms of human rights, legal responsibility, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

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