International Law

International law is the body of legal rules that apply between sovereign states and such other entities as have been granted international personality (status acknowledged by the international community). The rules of international law are of a normative character, that is, they prescribe towards conduct, and are potentially designed for authoritative interpretation by an international judicial authority and by being capable of enforcement by the application of external sanctions. The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, which succeeded the Permanent Court of International Justice after World War II. Article 92 of the charter of the United Nations states:

The International Court of justice shall be the principal judicial organ of the United nations. It shall function in accordance with the annexed Statute, which is based upon the Statute of the Permanent court of International Justice and forms an integral part of the present Charter.

The commands of international law must be those that the states impose upon themselves, as states must give consent to the commands that they will follow. It is a direct expression of raison d'etat, the "interests of the state", and aims to serve the state, as well as protect the state by giving its rights and duties. This is done through treaties and other consensual engagements which are legally binding.

The case-law of the ICJ is an important aspect of the UN's contribution to the development of international law. It's judgements and advisory opinions permeates into the international legal community not only through its decisions as such but through the wider implications of its methodology and reasoning.

The successful resolution of the border dispute between Burkina Faso and Mali in the 1986 Frontier Dispute case illustrates the utility of judicial decision as a means of settlement in territorial disputes. The case was submitted to a Chamber of the ICJ pursuant to a special agreement concluded by the parties in 1983. In December 1985, while written submissions were being prepared, hostilities broke out in the disputed area. A cease-fire was agreed, and the Chamber directed the continued observance of the cease-fire, the withdrawal of troops within twenty days, and the avoidance of actions tending to aggravate the dispute or prejudice its eventual resolution. Both Presidents publicly welcomed the judgement and indicated their intention to comply with it. In the Fisheries Jurisdiction case (United Kingdom v. Iceland , 1974) the ICJ contributed to the firm establishment in law of the idea that mankind needs to conserve the living resources of the sea and must respect these resources. The Court observed:

It is one of the advances in maritime international law, resulting from the intensification of fishing, that the former laissez-faire treatment ofthe living resources of the sea in the high seas has been replaced by a recognition of a duty to have due regard of the rights of other States and the needs of conservation for the benefit of all. Consequently, both parties have the obligation to keep inder review the fishery resources in the disputed waters and to examine together, in the light of scientific and other available information, the measures required for the conservation and development, and equitable exploitation, of these resources, taking into account any international agreement in force between them, such as the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Convention of 24 January 1959, as well as such other agreements as may be reached in the matter in the course of further negotiation. The Court also held that the concept of preferential rights in fisheries is not static.

This is not to say that the preferential rights of a coastal State in a special situation are a static concept, in the sense that the degree of the coastal State's preference is to be considered as for ever at some given moment. On the contrary, the preferential rights are a function of the exceptional dependence of such a coastal State on the fisheries in adjacent waters and may, therefore, vary as the extent of that dependence changes.

The Court's judgement on this case contributes to the development of the law of the sea by recognizing the concept of the preferential rights of a coastal state in the fisheries of the adjacent waters, particularly if that state is in a special situation with its population dependent on