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 10: Objecting to the Court’s jurisdiction

Vanda Lamm

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


Since in most cases the seising of the Court under declarations of acceptance happens years after the acceptance of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction by the parties to a dispute, thus states very often find themselves faced with proceedings instituted before the Court in legal disputes which they may never have thought to be ever submitted to the Court’s decision. In such cases one should not be suprised that the respondent states are challenging the Court’s jurisdiction in the form of preliminary objections, which is a procedural institution covered by the Rules of the Court. It should be noted that this action is typical not only for disputes submitted on the basis of declarations of acceptance, but also for cases where the title of the Court’s jurisdiction is a treaty provision. The raising of a matter of jurisdiction by a preliminary objection is a legal right of states which forms part of their litigation strategy and as Rosenne points out ‘no valid reason, legal or political, can exist to require a state to refrain from exercising its right if it is so minded’. The procedure to be followed when the respondent is exercising that right is regulated in a rather detailed manner by the Rules of the Court. Under Article 79 of the Rules one could differentiate between either objection to the jurisdiction of the Court or admissibility of the application.

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