Compulsory Jurisdiction in International Law

Compulsory Jurisdiction in International Law

Vanda Lamm

The Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice by the provisions of the optional clause has introduced a system of partial obligatory international adjudication based on the full observance of the voluntary acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction. This timely book offers a wide-ranging survey of the development of the optional clause system, the theoretical and procedural aspects of unilateral declarations of acceptance, and the different reservations added to these declarations. It also seeks to find solutions to the improvement of the system.

Chapter 6: Reciprocity and the system of optional clause declarations

Vanda Lamm

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, public international law


International law is interwoven – perhaps more profoundly than any other branch of law – due to reciprocity in the sense that rights are being coupled with certain obligations in interstate relations and there must be some sort of correlation between the rights enjoyed and obligations assumed by states. First of all, this is explained because in international law states are the law-makers who are equal and well aware that they should assume certain obligations in return for their rights, and vice versa. This thesis in international law holds true not only for law-making, but also for the application and enforcement of law. There is no doubt that the principle of reciprocity is most clearly manifested in the law of treaties; however, as will be seen in this chapter, it is also a basic element of the optional clause system under the Statutes of both Courts. Reciprocity is covered by Article 36, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice providing that: (2) ‘The States to the present Statute may at any time declare that they recognize as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement, in relation to any other State accepting the same obligation, the jurisdiction of the Court …’ and (3) ‘The declarations referred to above may be made unconditionally or on condition of reciprocity on the part of several or certain States, or for a certain time.

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