Legal Committee Overlapping Jurisdiction of International Law - IDIA
Rutgers Model United Nations 5 rely on the Court as an intermediary. 5 In many cases, states entering into treaties include language that defaults to the Court in the case there is a dispute as to the interpretation of the treaty. The rulings of the International Court of Justice are final, and, theoretically binding on the parties of the case. In practice, however, the Court does not have the ability to enforce the decisions it offers. In the case of noncompliance, the injured party may seek a remedy through the United Nations Security Council. 6 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties The primary source of general international law, the overarching set of principles that guide interactions between nations, is the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The International Law Commission, the United Nations group charged with the codification of international law, worked on drafts of the Convention from 1949 to 1969, when it was ratified. The Convention officially went into effect eleven years later in 1980. The Convention outlines various standards that apply to the brokering and ratification of treaties between states. The document spells out the means by which treaties are entered into and the manner by which they may be voided by one or more of the particular states. The treaty delineates the way in which treaties should be interpreted and the means by which disputes as to their meanings should be rectified. The Convention clearly elucidates a number of these themes and gives specific guidelines outlining the course of action to be taken for a number of contingencies that could arise under the treaty. Article 53 of the Convention delineates an important concept in international law, that of jus cogens, also known as a peremptory norm, a concept of law so engrained that it cannot be violated in any case, save upon the adoption of an equally strong differing law. The Article states: For the purposes of the present Convention, a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character. 7 5 International Court of Justice Information Office, “The International Court of Justice,” 23 November 2006, http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/igeneralinformation/inotice.pdf. 6 Ibid 7 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
Rutgers Model United Nations 6 The Work of the International Law Commission The International Law Commission was established by the United Nations in 1947 to further the development and institutionalization of international law. Its members are elected by the General Assembly and sit as individuals rather than as representatives of their state of citizenship. In 2002, the International Law Commission convened a Study Group to examine the topic of “Fragmentation of international law: difficulties arising from the diversification and expansion of international law.” 8 The Study Group set out to complete its work over a four year period, and decided to concentrate on five fundamental issues that related to the fragmentation of international law. First, the commission studied the effects of lex speciali, or “special law,” and self-contained regimes. Lex specialis is an important tenet relating to treaties between states. The principle states that should all the parties to a treaty subsequently agree to subscribe to a more specific, specialized treaty, the contents of the new treaty will supersede the provisions of the former. The principle of lex specialis and the relation between general and specialized can be applied in multiple ways. In one case, the more specific rule is interpreted in the context of the general rule. It is to be considered an elaboration or adaptation of general international law to apply to a specific set of circumstances. In this scenario, the specialized law does not truly contradict the general one, but merely augments and fulfills it. They both seek to accomplish the same thing and thus are not innately incongruous. In other cases, however, the ensuing law does sometimes run afoul of general law in a contradictory fashion. In these cases, lex specialis dictates that a more specific law shall prevail over the more generic law. This usage, however, is not always clear. In many cases, discovering which of the various laws is in fact more specific can be a difficult task, and various nations will often hold starkly different views on the implementation of the doctrine. Furthermore, other fundamental doctrines of international law can conflict with the application of lex specialis. The principle that 8 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-seventh Session, Supplement No. 10 (A/57/10), paragraphs 492- 494.