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International Law
St. Johns University School of Law
Borgen, Christopher J.


International Law

Fall 2011

I. Introduction

General Background

· Nations and states are not synonymous. Nations historically have been groups of people.

· International Law is- The body of law that governs relations among states international organizations and/or sub-national actors across state borders.

Chad Libya

· Conflict arose over strip of land

· Chad wants strip and Libya wants strip plus a little more in the south

· Ghaddafi claimed Aouzou strip as part of Libya on the grounds of an unratified treaty of the colonial period

· Classic state v. state over territory, in front of ICJ, serves as good example of ideal international law interaction.

· The Aouzou dispute was concluded for good on February 3, 1994, when the judges of the ICJ by a majority of 16 to 1 decided that the Aouzou Strip belonged to Chad. The court’s judgment was implemented without delay, the two parties signing as early as April 4 an agreement concerning the practical modalities for the implementation of the judgment. Monitored by international observers, the withdrawal of Libyan troops from the Strip began on April 15 and was completed by May 10. The formal and final transfer of the Strip from Libya to Chad took place on May 30, when the sides signed a joint declaration stating that the Libyan withdrawal had been effected.

Rainbow Warrior

· France sends operatives to bomb Greenpeace ship that was protesting and disrupting nuclear testing in the Pacific.

· Operatives destroy ship while docked in New Zealand, killing a photographer on board.

· Operatives are arrested and France implicated. Argument ensues between New Zealand and France. France wants agents back and NZ wants apology, compensation (for greenpeace, family of photog) prosecution etc.

· Espousal­- when a state espouses a claim, it speaks for one of its citizens in a forum where that citizen would not typically have standing.

· France goes to European community and says they’re going to embargo NZ’s butter

· NZ Goes to OECD and GATT. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades and Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. France is a member.

· France and NZ agree to submit all questions to Good Offices of UN Secretary General.

· Secretary General finds 7M in compensation for NZ and transfers operatives to French military prison in the Pacific with certain conditions.

· France ultimately returned both agents to mainland France and freed them by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll.

· Honestly, France and NZ predetermined conditions before decision by Attorney General. This is not an authentic ideal example of International Law, but the decision to cooperate and settle things was in part due to both parties knowing about the mere existence of these international bodies. Interaction of Int’l law and Real Politic.

General Overview of International Legal History

Ancient Greece

· International System

· Multiple independent city states, close to modern system

· Legal themes

· Diplomatic Practice

· Treaties

· Rules of war

· Arbitration

· Peloponnesian War

· Athens vs. Sparta

· Melos (tiny Greek island)- melian dialogue

· Neutral in war. Athens shows up and demands they pick a side. Melos claims right to have neutrality respected, and Athens basically says too bad we’re stronger than you. Ultimately comes down to rights vs. power. Athens comes back and destroys Melos.

Roman Empire

· Imperial system, not really states like Greece

o Legal Themes

§ Ius Gentium- the law of peoples (applied to all people in empire)

§ Ius Civile- civil law governing Roman citizens

Early Middle Ages

· Feudalism

· Legal Themes

· Natural Law (Divine) Aquinas etc.

International System

eiber Code- American civil war rules of war

· Hague Peace conferences (1899/1907)

Post WWI

· League of Nations

· International Labor Organizations

· Wilson’s 14 points

· Legal Themes

· End of Unlimited Recourse to War

· Kellogg-Briand Act (1928) (renounced aggressive war, prohibited war as an instrument of national policy except in self defense)

· Arbitrational/ International Tribunals



Post WWII – Cold War

· Bipolar

· The UN Order

· Intergovernmental- agreements between governments not a new world government

· Peaceful Settlement

· Self-Determination

· Rights of Individuals

· The Economic Order (Bretton Woods) (The chief features of the Bretton Woods system were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate by tying its currency to the U.S. dollar and the ability of the IMF to bridge temporary imbalances of payments.)

· World Bank


· GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade- Replaced by WTO ‘93)

· ILO (International Labour Organization)

· Laws of War

· Nuremberg

· Geneva Conventions (comprise four treaties and three additional protocols that set the standards in international law for humanitarian treatment of the victims of war)

Human Rights

· ICCPR, ICESCR, etc. (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)

· Tribunals

· Nuremberg