Word of the Day

jus cogens

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the principles which form the norms of international law

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The term jus cogens is the Latin for ‘compelling law’. It was first used in English in the late 19th century.


One of the regular features of our updates of Macmillan Dictionary in recent years has been the addition of legal terms submitted by Kevin Pike. While the main tranche of legal entries was added a few years ago, Kevin, who lectures on English for Special Purposes in the field of law at Erlangen University in Germany, is kind enough to regularly send us entries for additional legal terms. One such is jus cogens, one of many Latin terms still used in law, in this case international law. You can explore legal Latin in this thesaurus entry, which also links to entries for other types of legal language. If you have knowledge of specialist terms in any field that are missing from Macmillan Dictionary you can submit entries here. We also, of course, welcome submissions of words and phrases that are in general use.


Examples of jus cogens norms include prohibition on the use of force; the law of genocide; the principle of racial non-discrimination; crimes against humanity; and the rules prohibiting trade in slaves or human trafficking.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Aggression constitutes violation of jus cogens as well as article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Related words

ne bis in idem, parens patriae, res ipsa loquitor

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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