Landmark Judgements of International Law: OurLegalWorld

Landmark Judgements of International Law: OurLegalWorld

Case Laws on International Law for CLAT PG, LLM Entrance Exam: Our Legal World

1. S.S Lotus Case

In this case, international Law was defined as “International law governs relations between independent states. The Rules of law binding upon states therefore emanate from their own free will as expressed in conventions or by usages generally accepted as expressing principles of law and established in order to regulate the relations between these co-existing independent communities or with a views of the achievement of common aims, Restriction upon the independence of states cannot therefore by presumed.”

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2. Anglo Norwegian Fisheries Case 1951

The UK and Norway contest maritime border delineation. The Court looks at the formation of customary law and the impact of objections and contrary practice on the development of a customary law rule.

3. Chorzow Factory (Indemnity) Case 1028 P.C.I.J

In the earlier decision in the same in 1926 the court had held that Polish taking over of Nitrate factory at Chorzow was incompatible with the Geneva Convention of 1922 between Germany and Poland. Now Germany files a suit for indemnity. Poland sought to raise certain issues of fact. The court accepted the plea of Germany that res judicata did not permit Poland to reopen the issue of fact.

4. Nicaragua v United States (CIL) 1986

The US conducts military and paramilitary activities in Nicaragua. The Court looks at customary law on the use of force, the relationship between customary and treaty law, and the elements necessary to form customary law.

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5. Island of Palmas Case (1928) P.C.A.

United States, as sovereign of Phillippines, contended that Spain ceded the Island of Palmas as part of Phillippines archipelago under the War Treaty of 1898. Huber awarded the Island to Netherlands by applying the principle that it exercised prolonged and undisputed authority on the Island, i.e., unchallenged acts of peaceful display of sovereignty; and rejected discovery or contiguity as the basis of United States claim.

6. Luther v. Sagor (UK) 1921

7. North Sea Continental Shelf Cases 1969

Maritime dispute between Germany, Netherlands and Denmark. The Court discussed practices of specially interested States, and elements necessary to form a customary law rule.

8. Asylum Case (Colombia/Peru) 1950

“In the case of diplomatic asylum the refugee is within the territory of the State. A decision to grant diplomatic asylum involves a derogation from the sovereignty of that State. It withdraws the offender from the jurisdiction of the territorial State and constitutes an intervention in matters which are exclusively within the competence of that State. Such a derogation from territorial sovereignty cannot be recognised unless its legal basis is established in each particular case.” 

9. Nicaragua vs the United States: Use of Force and Self-Defense 1986

The Court held that the United States violated its customary international law obligation not to use force against another State when its activities with the contras resulted in the threat or use of force. The prohibition on the use of force is found both in Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations (UN Charter) and in customary international law.

10. Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo vs Uganda) 2005

The ICJ held that these military operations, which occurred in August 1998, were not covered by consent and violated principles relating to the use of force. These operations could only be justified as self-defense. Yet, Uganda had not relied on self-defense to justify its activities.