This article provides an overview of the approach taken by the International Court of Justice and its predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice, to questions of municipal law. Beginning with an outline of the theoretical framework, it discusses the conventional position that domestic law is a factual issue for the Court, before considering the ways in which the two Courts have utilised municipal law. It also considers to what extent the Court employs domestic law in ascertaining international legal rules.
This article is referenced to the thirtieth anniversary of the ICJ’s Nicaragua judgement on the merits of 1986. It acknowledges the significance of this much-debated judgement for the modern international law on the use of force (jus ad bellum). However the text focuses on one aspect of the judgment only, i.e. the definition of the notion of “armed attack” as the most grave form of the use of force. The impact of the judgement in this respect is critically analysed. It is argued that the introduction to the UN Charter text of undefined notions of the use of force, aggression, and armed attack may be labelled as the “original sin” of contemporary jus ad bellum, as it results in conceptual obscurity. It is also claimed that the ICJ reaffirmed this original sin in its Nicaragua judgment because it explicitly argued for the notion of “armed attack” as the most grave form of the use of armed force and, in consequence, distinguished it from the other, lesser forms of the use of force, while failing to introduce any sort of clarity in the conceptual ambiguity of jus ad bellum. The article also offers some remarks de lege ferenda and suggests abandoning the gravity criterion, which would require abandoning the well-established judicial and doctrinal interpretation approaches to jus ad bellum.
The international community anxiously awaited delivery of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Kosovo’s declaration of independence, hoping it would clarify the controversial right of self-determination and the right of secession. Although it was hailed by many as a confirmation of both rights, the advisory opinion was disappointing regarding that part of the analysis which was based on general international law. The ICJ interpreted the question posed in a very narrow and formalistic way. It concluded that declarations of independence (not their consequences) are not in violation of international law, but it did not rule that they are in accordance with international law, as was requested in the posed question. The ICJ refused to examine whether there is a positive entitlement to secession under international law. Although Kosovo and its supporters claimed that the case of Kosovo is unique and will not set a precedent, Russia used the case of Kosovo and the advisory opinion to justify the so-called referendum in Crimea and the subsequent incorporation of Crimea into Russia. However, the situation in Crimea is only superficially comparable to Kosovo and the advisory opinion gives little or no support in the case of Crimea