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 7: Generally accepted reservations to declarations of acceptance

Vanda Lamm

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


As has already been mentioned, in the last more than ninety years, states had elaborated a great variety of different reservations and limitations to their declarations of acceptance and thus narrowing its obligations under the optional clause. Most of these reservations and limitations gain currency in the international community; however, they are also reservations which are unquestionably destructive to the whole optional clause system. For this reason in this present work, the classification of different reservations attached to declarations of acceptance will be made according to both their acceptance by the international community of states and their influence on the optional clause system. In this chapter those reservations will be discussed which are considered to be limitations generally accepted by the international community of states. Within national laws and international law it is a well-established principle that – with the exception of some very special cases – the commencement of obligations do not have retroactive effects. In the case of declarations accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and its predecessor (the Permanent Court of International Justice) the situation is just the opposite. The retroactive effects of declarations of acceptance are the general rule and, in order to exclude the retroactive effect, the declaring state should expressly stipulate this in its declaration of acceptance.

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