There is no single definition as to what ‘soft law’ as a concept and source of international law is. Various scholars have attempted to define this concept, but they have been criticised by colleagues hence, laying the foundation of immense and endless debates concerning this matter. The generally accepted definition was fronted by Shelton who described soft law as the “normative provisions contained in non-binding texts.”

For a fact, International Human Rights Law derives the bulk of its prominence from the two primary sources of law, which include treaties and customary international law. However, the principles and rules which are derived from these sources most often require interpretation for efficient application. This is where soft law comes in. Based on Article 38 of the ICJ statute, judicial decisions as well as writings of qualified publicists come in to fill the gaps that would be left by the two primary sources of International Human Rights Law.

Accordingly, soft law as a source of international law is very important due to its complementary effect to the traditional sources. For instance, the United Nations General Assembly often makes resolutions to the effect of implementing certain issues.