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 8: Destructive reservations

Vanda Lamm

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


Among the reservations to declarations of acceptance, the most disputable are subjective reservations of domestic jurisdiction. This type of reservation is otherwise termed as ‘self-judging reservation’, ‘automatic reservation’, or ‘Connally reservation’. The term ‘automatic reservation’ – as applied in reference to subjective reservations of domestic jurisdiction – owes its wide acceptance to Sir Hersch Lauterpacht’s separate opinion appended to the judgment on the preliminary objections in the Norwegian Loans case. According to Judge Lauterpacht, the term ‘automatic reservation’ is a good indication of the ‘automatic’ operation of the reservation in the sense that the Court’s function concerning such reservations is confined to registering the decision of the defendant state, which is not subject to review by the Court. The origin of these reservations goes back to 1945, when the Senate of the United States discussed the US declaration of acceptance. Senator Morse, who introduced the relevant bill, had prepared the draft of the American declaration in cooperation with Manley D. Hudson, who was one of the most prominent experts on the Permanent Court of International Justice. In its original version the draft declaration contained an objective reservation of domestic jurisdiction. The debate in the Senate over the draft focussed attention on the question of who was to decide on matters falling within the domestic jurisdiction of the United States. According to Lawrence Preuss, the debate in the Senate revealed that little was known about domestic jurisdiction ‘except its extreme sanctity’.

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