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Chapter

Cover International Human Rights Law

5. Special Character  

Frédéric Mégret

This chapter first introduces the relationship of international human rights law to public international law, which is crucial to understanding the ‘special character’ of international human rights obligations. It then introduces the basic idea of what it means for a legal obligation to be described as ‘special’ in nature in international law, and discusses several key consequences that can be said to flow from this character in terms of reservations, enforcement, and withdrawal.

Chapter

Cover Cases & Materials on International Law

11. State Responsibility  

State responsibility arises from the violation by a State (or other international legal person) of an international obligation that can be one of customary international law or arising from a treaty. The violation must be due to conduct attributable to a State. This chapter discusses the nature of State responsibility; attribution; breach of an international obligation of the State; circumstances precluding wrongfulness (defences); consequences of a breach; enforcement of a claim; and treatment of aliens.

Chapter

Cover International Law

1. Foundations and structure of international law  

This chapter introduces the subject of public international law and provides an overview of its most important elements. It begins with a brief historical overview of international law. It then presents the international legal system consisting of different structures of legal rules and principles; discusses the basis of international legal obligation; offers a brief overview of the relationship between international law and national law; and deals with the issue of enforcement. The chapter concludes with an overview of some of the critiques of the international legal system.

Chapter

Cover International Law

10. State responsibility  

This chapter illustrates the concept of responsibility in international law. Within international law, the term ‘responsibility’ has long been understood to denote how fault or blame is attributable to a legal actor for the breach of an international legal obligation. State responsibility remains the archetypal and thus most developed form of international responsibility. Nevertheless, other international actors apart from States may also bear rights and obligations under international law. The result of such capacity is the potential to bear responsibility for a breach of an international legal obligation. International law also provides for what are termed ‘circumstances precluding wrongfulness’, through which an act which would normally be internationally wrongful is not deemed as such. In such situations, international responsibility is not engaged. These are akin to defences or excuses in municipal legal orders.

Chapter

Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

4. State Responsibility, Treaty Compliance, and Dispute Settlement  

This chapter looks at the number of ways that secure compliance with international environmental law can be employed. The more traditional approach to this subject is the familiar one of interstate claims for breach of international obligations, employing the variety of forms of dispute settlement machinery contemplated in Article 33 of the UN Charter. There are a number of disadvantages to enforcing international environmental law in this manner, particularly if it involves compulsory resort to judicial institutions. The chapter outlines these disadvantages which include the adverse effect on relations between the relevant states; the complexity, length, and expense of international litigation; the technical character of environmental problems, and the difficulties of proof which legal proceedings may entail, and uncertainty concerning jurisdiction and applicable law in legally complex disputes.

Chapter

Cover International Law

1. Foundations and structure of international law  

This chapter introduces the subject of public international law and provides an overview of its most important elements. It begins with a brief historical overview of international law. It then presents the international legal system consisting of different structures of legal rules and principles; discusses the basis of international legal obligation; offers a brief overview of the relationship between international law and national law; and deals with the issue of enforcement. The chapter concludes with some remarks about the alleged inadequacies of international law and the tension between notions of justice and order that is so prevalent within the international legal system.

Chapter

Cover Cases & Materials on International Law

12. International Environmental Law  

The concern and awareness about the need for environmental protection has increased dramatically, both nationally and internationally, in the last few decades. One way of putting this concern into action is the law, being a means to structure and regulate behaviour. International environmental law includes many treaties and declarations, a body of State practice and some compliance mechanisms, as well as a development towards the introduction of flexible instruments to achieve compliance. This chapter discusses the context of international environmental law; environmental theories; international obligations; selected environmental treaties; and the relationship of the environment with other international law issues.

Book

Cover International Law

Edited by Malcolm Evans

International Law is a collection of diverse writings from leading scholars in the field that brings together a broad range of perspectives on all the key issues in international law. Featuring chapters written by those actively involved in teaching and practice, this fifth edition explains the principles of international law, and exposes the debates and challenges that underlie it. The book contains seven parts. Part I provides the history and theory of international law. Part II looks at the structure of the international law obligation. Part III covers the subjects of the international legal order. Part IV looks at the scope of sovereignty. Part V looks at responsibility. Part VI considers how to respond to breaches in international obligations. Finally, Part VII looks at the various applications of international law and explains issues relating to the law of the sea, environmental law, investment law, criminal law, human rights law, migration law, and the law of armed conflict.

Chapter

Cover International Law

6. The Practical Working of the Law of Treaties  

Malgosia Fitzmaurice

This chapter examines key structural questions and fundamental problems relating to the law of treaties. These structural matters include: the concept of a treaty; the anatomy of treaties (including the making of treaties; authority to conclude treaties; expression of consent to be bound; invalidity of treaties (non-absolute grounds for invalidity of treaties, absolute grounds for invalidity of treaties, amendment, and modification); suspension and termination). The key issues addressed include the scope of legal obligation (the principle pacta sunt servanda, treaties, and third States); interpretation and reservation to treaties (including interpretative declarations); and finally, problems concerning the grounds for termination (supervening impossibility and material breach). The chapter also considers the theory and practice of the law of treaties, with broad analysis of the case law of various international courts and tribunals, with special emphasis on jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice.

Chapter

Cover International Law

13. Enforcement short of force  

This chapter focuses on enforcement short of force in international law, particularly studying countermeasures, the primary measures available to States in order to induce compliance of wrongdoers with their international obligations. In the last decades, there has been the codification and attempted development by the ILC, in the Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (ARSIWA), of an international regime regulating countermeasures. To characterize an act as a ‘countermeasure’ is to concede its illegality in normal circumstances: by definition, countermeasures are acts which are ‘intrinsically unlawful, but are justified by the alleged initial failing to which they were a response’. Countermeasures may not in any case involve the use of armed force. The chapter also discusses the category of reprisals, the so-called ‘acts of retorsion’, and sanctions.

Chapter

Cover International Law

14. The Character and Forms of International Responsibility  

James Crawford and Simon Olleson

This chapter begins with an overview of the different forms of responsibility/liability in international law, and then focuses on the general character of State responsibility. The law of State responsibility deals with three general questions: (1) has there been a breach by a State of an international obligation; (2) what are the consequences of the breach in terms of cessation and reparation; and (3) who may seek reparation or otherwise respond to the breach as such, and in what ways? As to the first question, the chapter discusses the constituent elements of attribution and breach, as well as the possible justifications or excuses that may preclude responsibility. The second question concerns the various secondary obligations that arise upon the commission of an internationally wrongful act by a State, and in particular the forms of reparation. The third question concerns issues of invocation of responsibility, including the taking of countermeasures.

Chapter

Cover Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law

25. The conditions for international responsibility  

This chapter discusses the basis and character of state responsibility, attribution to the state, breach of an international obligation, and circumstances precluding wrongfulness. This chapter focuses on the articulation of the law of responsibility through the ILC’s Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts.

Chapter

Cover International Law

3. Hierarchy of norms in international law  

This chapter examines the hierarchy of norms and sources in international law. Establishing a hierarchy of norms and sources allows for a community to elevate certain fundamental principles over ordinary norms, and to establish order and clarity in the relations between norms, authoritative institutions, and legal subjects. In the last half-century, a special class of general rules endowed with peremptory legal force has emerged. Known interchangeably as ‘peremptory norms’ or ‘norms of jus cogens’, these are regarded as possessing a higher status than ordinary rules of international law, and would prevail over the latter in cases of conflict. As such, whether an ordinary rule exists in treaty or customary law, or is a general principle, it is null and void if in conflict with a rule of jus cogens. The chapter also studies a related category known as rights or, more commonly, obligations erga omnes (‘owed to all’).

Chapter

Cover International Law

7. The law of treaties  

This chapter describes the law of treaties. As defined in Article 2(2) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), a treaty can be embodied in a single instrument, or in two or more related instruments. It is a written agreement; between international legal subjects; and governed by international law. In short, a treaty must be written in order to fall under the scope of the VCLT. Although this does not mean that oral agreements have no effect in international law, it does mean that the law of treaties embodied in the VCLT does not govern oral agreements. While States are the most active actors entering into treaty relations, international organizations may also enter into treaties, whether between themselves or with a State. Ultimately, because a treaty’s purpose is to create binding international legal obligations, the law of treaties applies to agreements governed by international law.

Chapter

Cover International Human Rights Law

13. The right to life  

This chapter examines African, American, European, and international jurisprudence on the right to life. It discusses the positive obligation incumbent on States to protect life; the permissible deprivation of life (the death penalty, death caused by national security forces, and death during armed conflict); and the issue of genocide. The chapter concludes that the right to life is of paramount importance in international human rights law. International law covers not only the straightforward human rights aspects, but also extends to the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide.

Chapter

Cover Birnie, Boyle, and Redgwell's International Law and the Environment

5. Non-State Actors: Environmental Rights, Liability, and Crimes  

This chapter turns to some of the environmental rights and obligations which attach to individuals, corporations, and NGOs in international law. The chapter considers some alternative approaches to the implementation and enforcement of international environmental law. Relying less on interstate claims, or on mechanisms of international supervision, the development of human-rights approaches to environmental protection and the economic logic of the polluter-pays principle have made claims by individuals an increasingly attractive means of dealing with domestic or transboundary environmental problems. But the diversity of the issues needs emphasis in this context also. National remedies are not necessarily alternatives to the systems considered in the last chapter, but are more often complementary to it, and only in certain respects more useful. The variety of approaches now available for the resolution of international environmental disputes does indicate the increasing sophistication of the international legal system, the chapter argues.

Chapter

Cover Cases & Materials on International Law

6. International Human Rights Law  

Human rights are a matter of international law, as the rights of humans do not depend on an individual’s nationality and so the protection of these rights cannot be limited to the jurisdiction of any one State. This chapter introduces the principal ideas, issues and framework of international human rights law. It discusses human rights theories; human rights and the international community; international protection of human rights; regional human rights protections; limitations on the human rights treaty obligations of States; the right of self-determination; and the protection of human rights by non-State actors.

Chapter

Cover International Law

19. The protection of the environment  

This chapter studies the development of international environmental law. A significant proportion of international environmental law obligations is contained in treaties, which often provide for institutional mechanisms or procedural obligations for their implementation. There exists a dense network of treaty obligations relating to environmental protection, and to specific sectors such as climate change, the conservation of endangered species, or the handling of toxic materials. Indeed, though customary international law knows of no general legal obligation to protect and preserve the environment, certain customary rules nevertheless have been found in specific treaties, case law, and occasionally even soft law instruments. The most significant such rule is the principles of prevention, often taking the form of the ‘good neighbour’ principle. States are required to exercise due diligence in preventing their territory from being used in such a way so as to cause significant damage to the environment of another state.

Chapter

Cover Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law

27. Multilateral public order and issues of responsibility  

International law has remained imprecise with respect to the scope and consequences of serious, systemic illegality, but there have been developments that have made collective action under law possible. The chapter reviews the objective consequences of illegal acts, covering peremptory norms (ius cogens), the obligation not to recognize a situation as lawful, and the obligation of putting an end to an unlawful situation.

Chapter

Cover Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law

26. Consequences of an internationally wrongful act  

In the event of an internationally wrongful act by a state or other subject of international law, other states or subjects may be entitled to respond. This may be done by invoking the responsibility of the wrongdoer, seeking cessation and/or reparation, or (if no other remedy is available) possibly by taking countermeasures. This chapter discusses international law governing cessation, reparation, invocation.