Compulsory Jurisdiction in International Law
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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.
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Chapter 4: Admissibility of reservations to declarations of acceptance

Vanda Lamm


Even the very first declarations of acceptance contained certain clauses that served to place limitations on the obligations that states had undertaken concerning the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, and, as Jochen Frowein points out, from the very beginning it was understood that states may exclude different areas from the operation of the optional clause. In connection with the practice of placing limitations by attaching reservations to the declarations of acceptance, Leo Gross considers it paradoxical that ‘in practice states apply both the “contracting-in” (or “opting-in”) principle as well as the “contracting-out” (or “opting-out”) principle: they “contract-in” by making a declaration of acceptance and they “contract-out” by attaching reservations’.The limitations or restrictions – included in the declarations of acceptance – are called ‘reservations’ both in the writings of publicists and practice of the two Courts. This terminology is not the most suitable, chiefly because the said limitations cannot be deemed to be real reservations according to the interpretation used in international law regarding the law of treaties and, as will be discussed later, they differ in many aspects from the reservations made to multilateral treaties. The appearance of reservations in the declarations of acceptance was somewhat ‘unexpected’ because, in the drafting of the Permanent Court’s Statute, the Committee of Jurists did not anticipate any reservation being made by a declarant state concerning the compulsory jurisdiction.

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