Clinching the Concept of Sovereignty: Wimhledon Redux

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Clinching the Concept of Sovereignty: Wimhledon Redux

in Austrian Review of International and European Law Online


1 Thus, e.g., P,H. Kooijmans, 'Het non-interventie-beginsel herijkt', 50 Internationale Spectator ( 1996), 515-519. 2 Article 2( 1 ) of the UN Charter.

3 Ian Brownlie, Principles of public international law (1990, 4th ed.), 288. 4 Louis Henkin, 'International law: politics, values and functions', 216 Recueil des Cours (l989/IV) 9-416, 24. 5 Anne-Marie Slaughter, "International law in a world of liberal states", 6 European Journal of International Law (1995) 503-538; a perceptive critique is Outi Korhonen, "Liberalism and international law: a centre projecting a periphery", 65 Nordic Journal of International Law (1996) 481-532. 6 John Tasioulas, "In defence of relative normativity: communitarian values and the Nicaragua case", 16 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (1996) 85-128; in order to defend his reading of the Nicaragua case he has to weaken the concept of sovereignty until it is little more than a set of non-intervention principles. 7 Decision of 25 September 1997; not yet reported. 8 Compare ibid., paragraphs 62 and 91. 9 This is, of course, the classic Austinian argument. See John Austin, The province of jurisprudence determined (1995, Rumble ed., first published 1832). As Binder succinctly puts it: "if the sanctity of treaties was not guaranteed by some higher authority, then states could simply violate treaties by the same power through which they could form treaties in the first

place." Guyora Binder, Treaty conflict and political contradiction: the dialectic of duplicity (1988), 43. Compare also Stephen D. Krasner, "Compromising Westphalia", 20 International Security (1995/96) 115-151. 10 Largely derived from Martti Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia: the structure of international legal argument (1989). Henkin puts it, not entirely free of disdain, as follows: "Once there was a serious debate as to whether there is, or can be, a law of nations since, it was argued, a sovereign State cannot be subject to any other authority, even to agreements of its making or to law which it helped make or to which it had consented: ' Supra note 4, at 25. 11 Compare, e.g., Luzius Wildhaber, "Sovereignty and international law", in R.St.J. Mac- Donald & D.M. Johnston (eds.), The structure and process of international law (1983) 425-452, noting that "[aluto-limitations are emanations from, not violations of, sovereignty" (at 442). 12 ,�n interesting but hitherto largely unexplored argument is made by Binder (supra note 9, esp. at 107), according to whom resolving the sovereignty dilemma in the present context is only feasible by viewing treaties as liability entitlements rather than as enforceable property entitlements. 13 Case of the S.S. Wimbledon, [1923] Publ. PCIJ, Series A, no. 1.

14 Thus, e.g., Brownlie, supra note 3, 288 (and somewhat less direct at 21-22); Peter Malanczuk, Akehurst's modern introduction to international law (1997, 7th ed.), 18; Patrick Daillier & Alain Pellet, Droit international public (1994, 5th ed.), 410. Compare also Wildhaber, supra note 11. 15 Thus, the point at issue is dealt with in two footnotes by Sir Robert Jennings & Sir Arthur Watts, Oppenheim's international law (1992, 9th ed.), at 122 and 392; similarly, albeit with some more pertinent information in the main body of text, Alfred Verdross & Bruno Simma, Universelles Volkerrecht: Theorie und Praxis (1984, 3d ed.), 28; Malcolm Shaw, Interna- tional law (1997, 4th ed.), 150. The Wimbledon case is not mentioned at all in the context of law-making in LA. Shearer, Starke's international law (1994, 1 lath ed.), or Mark W. Janis, An introduction to international law (1993, 2d ed.) and, most surprisingly given its general outlook, in one of the more recent treatises on sources doctrine, G.M. Danilenko, Law-making in the international community (1993). Paul Reuter, Introduction to the law of treaties (1995, 3d ed., Mico & Haggenmacher transl.), only deals with the Wimbledon decision in a note on separability of provisions (note to paragraphs 241-242). The case as such can meaningfully be discussed without ever referring to the sovereignty dilemma. Compare, e.g., Ingo von Munch, "The Wimbledon", in 2 Encyclopedia of Public International Law (1981) 293-296. 16 Compare David Kennedy, "International law and the nineteenth century: history of an illusion", 65 Nordic Journal of International Law (1996) 385-420. Similar considerations may apply to Anthony Carty, The decay of international law (1986), esp. ch. 5.

17 Christoph Schreuer, "The waning of the sovereign state: towards a new paradigm for international law?", 4 European Journal of International Law (1993) 447-471. 18 Eli Lauterpacht, "Sovereignty - myth or reality?", 73 International affairs (1997) 137- 150. See also Neil MacCormick, "Beyond the sovereign state", 56 Modern Law Review (1993) 1-18. 19 See, e.g., such recent works as Gene M. Lyons & Michael Mastanduno (eds.), Beyond Westphalia? State sovereignty and international intervention (1995), and Thomas J. Biersteker & Cynthia Weber (eds.), State sovereignty as social construct (1996). 20 See Kennedy, supra note 16, at 402 (emphasis omitted).

21 "... la question de souverainete d'une nation pour legiferer en matiere de nationalite sur son territoire domine la situation et n'est d'ailleurs pas contestee, et [..] t'application de ce principe au differend souleve par le Gouvernement anglais ne peut etre contredite ou suspen- due que par une regle formelle de droit international applicable aux faits de la cause ou par une stipulation des traites ou conventions internationaux existant entre les parties". [1923] Publ. PCIJ, Series B, no. 4, at 12. 22 Ibid., at 24. 23 [1922] Publ. PCIJ, Series B, Nos. 2 & 3, at 23. 24 Ibid. In its advisory opinion on the Competence of the International Labour Organisation with respect to agricultural production, delivered on the same day, the Court also relegated the issue before it to one of interpretation pure and simple. See ibid., esp. at 53-55.

25 And is, according to some, still an open question. Thus, Kaniel recently opined that a finding of implied exclusive powers in European Community law would be tantamount to "negating the power of the member states absolutely and violating their sovereignty funda- mentally". See Moshe Kaniel, The exclusive treaty-making power of the European Community up to the period of the Single European Act (1996), 101. 26 Compare Kennedy, supra note 16, at 405, remarking that 19th century scholars had rather more faith in law and relied less on sovereignty as the basis of everything than their twentieth century colleagues. A similar conception colours Carty's work, supra note 16. 27 Emeric de Vattel, The law of nations (no year, Chitty transl., first published 1758), 195. 28 He does a fourth thing as well, according to Carty (supra note 16, at 73-74): he lays the groundwork for the contractual analogy which so dominates the law of treaties.

29 Vattel, supra note 27, at 195. 30 See Pierre Chailley, La nature juridique des traites internationaux selon le droit contemporain (1932), 89. 31 See generally Jan Klabbers, The concept of treaty in international law (1996), esp. ch. 1. More specifically, see Pierre Michel Eisemann, "Le gentlemen's agreement comme source du droit international", 106 Journal du Droit International ( 1979) 326-348, and Eli Lauterpacht, "Gentleman's agreements", in W. Flume (ed.), Internationales Recht und Wirtschaftsordnung: Festschrift fiir F.A. Mann (1977) 381-398. 32 It is interesting to note that an identical argument was used in 1953 to substantiate the binding nature of political commitments. See James Fawcett, "The legal character of international agreements", 30 British Yearbook of International Law (1953) 381-400.

33 Henry Bonfils, Manuel de droit international public (droit des gens) (1901), 469. 34 J. de Louter, Le droit international public positif. tome I (1920), 470. 35 Ibid., at 510-511. 36 J.B. Atlay (ed.), Wheaton's international law (1904, 4th ed.), 24. Wheaton's original text is reproduced, with Atlay's and his predecessor's work of bringing the text "down to date" set in smaller print. 3� Ibid., at 45-46. 38 Georg Jellinek, Die rechtliche Natur der Staatenvertrdge (1880).

39 The doctrine of 'selbstbindung' was enthusiastically embraced by Otfried Nippold, Der volkerrechtliche Vertrags: seine Stellung im Rechtssystem und seine Bedeutung für das interna- tionale Recht ( 1894), esp. 196 et seq. In what reads as an apology for Jellinek's work, Nippold attempts to justify the changing will of the state not just in legal, but also in moral and social terms: state purpose follows from the common interest, so any change of state will due to a changed perception of state purpose is laudable (at 199). 40 Jellinek, supra note 38, at 40. 41 Ibid., at 10. 42 As quoted in E.H. Carr, The twenty years' crisis 1919-1939 (1981, first published 1939), 182. Bismarck made many more pertinent remarks on the rebus doctrine; compare the great number collected by Erich Kaufmann, Das Wesen des Volkerrechts und die Clausula Rebus Sic Stantibus (1911), esp. 25-31. 43 Quoted in De Louter, supra note 34, at 510. 44 But see David J. Bederman, "The 1871 London Declaration, rebus sic stantibus and a primitivist view of the law of nations", 82 American Journal of International Law (1988) 1-40, for an intricate analysis.

45 As Anzilotti noted in 1927, "si la sujetion de 1'Etat au droit international repose sur un acte de volonte de 1'Etat lui-meme, il n'y a pas d'effort dialectique qui soit capable de demontrer que 1'Etat ne puisse pas, par un autre acte de volont6, se degager de 1'obligation:' Dionisio Anzilotti, Cours de droit international (1929, transl. Gidel), at 45. Compare also Kaufmann, supra note 42, at 179: "So weit inhaltlich auch die Bindung gehen mag, die ein Staat eingeht, zuletzt muss doch immer sein Wille, sein lnteresse das Massgebende bleiben." 46 Compare also the ultimate justification provided by the International Law Commission in the comments to its final draft convention on the law of treaties: "... the fact that international law recognized no legal means of terminating or modifying the treaty otherwise than through a further agreement between the same parties might impose a serious strain on the relations between the States concerned, and the dissatisfied State might ultimately be driven to action outside the law." Yearbook of the International Law Commission ( 1966/II) 258. Clearly, this represents an attempt to justify the rather volatile rebus sic stantibus doctrine in the name of stability. 4� 2 Annual Digest 323-325.

48 John Maynard Keynes, The economic consequences of the peace (1920), 5. 49 Traditionally, international law attempts to overcome this problem by simply stating that the motives which may have induced a state to enter into the treaty are of no legal relevance: an expression of consent to be bound is all that matters. See, e.g., Bengt Broms, The doctrine of equality of states as applied in international organizations (1959), 77. 50 UN Doc. S/22558 of 2 May 1991, at 7. To treat such a statement as indicating the free consent of the state concerned appears somewhat unreal. For an example, see N.D. White, The law of international organisations (1996), 197. 51 lt is hardly a coincidence that the doctrine of non-justiciability rose to prominence during the same time. For a brief overview of the life and times of non-justiciability, see Fredrik Danelius, "De maximis non curat praetor or judicial review: the Hague Court in a time of transition", 5 Asian Yearbook of International Law (1995) 3-13. 52 Kennedy, supra note 16, at 395. 53 Ibid., at 405. Perhaps this somewhat relaxed nineteenth century conception of sovereignty may partially be explained by the observation, made in the drastically different context of Bismarck's passion for a lady not his wife, that "[t]he men of the nineteenth century had the art, now lost, of displaying violent emotion without carrying it to its logical conclusion." See A.J.P. Taylor, Bismarck: the man and the statesman (1995, first published 1955), at 50. The same spirit is conveyed in Croce's lovely phrase that the balance of power of the late 19th cen- tury maintained peace in Europe "in empirical and not in radical and constitutional fashion". Compare Benedetto Croce, History of Europe in the nineteenth century (1933, Furst transl.),

at 329. Compare generally also Martti Koskenniemi, "Lauterpacht: the Victorian tradition in international law", 8 European Journal of International Law (1997) 215-263. 54 F.H. Hinsley, Sovereignty (1966), esp. 208-209. A similar picture emerges from Croce, supra note 54, esp. chapters 9 and 10. Compare also P.H. Kooijmans, The doctrine of the legal equality of states (1964), at 131. 55 De Louter, supra note 34, at 174-175. 56 Paul Fauchille, Traite de droit international public: Tome I.1 (1922), 429-430. 5� Ibid., at 428.

58 An interesting aspect of the case, not to be discussed here, is that it allowed a claim brought by several parties at once, all of whom were presumed to have a legal interest of suf- ficient solidity. On this aspect, see D.N. Hutchinson, "Solidarity and breaches of multilateral treaties", 59 British Yearbook of International Law (1988) 151-215.

59 yyimbledon case, supra note 13, diss. op. judges Anzilotti and Huber, at 37.

60 See Acts and documents relating to judgments and advisory opinions given by the Court, [1923] Publ. PCIJ, Serie C, no. 3-1, 98-408, at 349. 61 Ibid., at 362. 62 Ibid., at 315. 63 Ibid., at 342 64 Ibid., at 342. 65 As FauchilIe readily recognized: "Sans Iiberté, pas de responsabiIit6; et sans re- sponsabilité, comment 8tre membre de la communauté internationale?". Supra note 56, at 427.

66 Acts and Documents, supra note 60, at 343. Wimbledon case, supra note 13, at 21. 68 Ibid., at 22. 69 Ibid., at 24. 70 Ibid., at 25.

71 It is worthy of note that professor Basdevant, speaking for the allied powers, tried to solve the dilemma by simply suggesting (albeit not in so many words) that concluding a treaty actually does diminish sovereignty. Cf. Acts and Documents, supra note 60, esp. at 369-371. �2 Ibid., at 342. 73 Kennedy, supra note 16, at 406-407. �4 Wimbledorc case, supra note 13, at 25. 75 See the text accompanying notes 23-25.

76 At this point one may start to wonder how much of a coincidence rests in the circum- stance that the same type of thinking had just been posited in Wesley N. Hohfeld's influential Fundamental legal conceptions as applied in judicial reasoning (1919). 77 [1925] Publ. PCIJ, Series B, no 10, at 21. 78 jurisdiction of the European Danube Commission between Galatz and Braila, [1927] Publ. PCIJ, Series B, no 14, at 36. �9 Perry v. Hughes, 1934, quoted in Lord McNair, "Treaties and sovereignty", reproduced in his The law of treaties ( 1961), at 760. For an overview of use of the Wimbledon decision in relation to international contracts, see Esa Paasivirta, Participation of states in international contracts (1990), 175-181. 80 Anzilotti, supra note 45.

81 Case of the SS Lotus, [1927] Publ. PCIJ, Series A, no. 9, diss. op. Judge Weiss, at 44. Faint echoes can be heard in Tasioulas, supra note 6, at 121. 82 McNair, supra note 879, at 760. 83 Compare the classic enumeration of various theories, only a few years after the Wimble- don judgment, of J.L. Brierly, 'The basis of obligation in international law', first delivered at

the Hague Academy in 1928 and reproduced in J.L. Brierly, The basis of obligation in interna- tional law and other papers (1977), 1-67. Compare also Oscar Schachter, "Towards a theory of international obligation", in Stephen M. Schwebel (ed.), The effectiveness of international decisions (1971), and more recently Harold Hongju Koh, "Why do nations obey international law?", 106 Yale Law Journal (1997) 2599-2659. 84 Compare Daniel Philpott, "Sovereignty: an introduction and brief history", 48 Journal of International Affairs (1995) 353-368, who goes as far as to note that the European Union is an entity with "formal sovereign prerogatives", at 367. 85 For a critical analysis, see Catherine Brolmann, 'The 1986 Vienna Convention on the law of treaties: the history of draft article 36bis', in Jan Klabbers & Rene Lefeber (eds.), Essays on the law of treaties: a collection of essays in honour of Bert �erdag (1998), 121-140. 86 The same premise underlies Slaughter's vision of a future world of liberal states: "If, for instance, the primary actors in the system are not States, but individuals and groups repres- ented by State governments, and international law regulates States without regard for such individual and group activity, international legal rules will become increasingly irrelevant to State behaviour". Supra note 5, at 504.

87 Compare, e.g., Security Council Resolution 864 (1993). See also Sydney D. Bailey, The UNSecurity Council and human rights (1994), 43. 88 Thus, it has been argued that common article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions would be binding upon non-state entities as successors to their governments, an argument based on the unrealistic proposition that entities fighting the state and denying its authority are nonetheless represented by the state in international dealings. The argument is reproduced in Thomas Fleiner-Gerster & Michael A. Meyer, "New developments in humanitarian law: a challenge to the concept of sovereignty", 341international & Comparative Law Quarterly (1985) 267-283, at 272, footnote 12. 89 As the Director of the Landmines Project of the Open Society Institute recently observed on the occasion of the opening for signature of the Landmine Ban Treaty: "... most current landmine use occurs in internal conflicts, in civil wars where at least one party is not a gov- ernment. Getting such non-state actors to respect the ban poses a novel difficulty which the system of international legislation is ill-equipped to deal with." John Ryle, "Arms campaigners enter political minefield", The Guardian Weekly, 14 December 1997, at 23. 90 Schreuer, supra note 17, at 454. Schreuer himself limits his argument with respect to treaty-making to international organizations and the component units of federal states (at 454- 456), but his point is of wider application.

9I Texaco v Libyan Arab Republic (merits), in 53 International Law Reports, 422-512, at 473�74, para. 66. 92 See, e.g., Peter Malanczuk, "Some basic aspects of the agreements between Israel and the PLO from the perspective of international law", 7 European Journal of International Law (1996) 485-500, esp. at 488-492, and references therein. 93 Compare Paola Gaeta, "The Dayton agreements and international law", 7 European Journal of International Law (1996) 147-163, esp. 158-160. 94 Compare Martti Koskenniemi, "The wonderful artificiality of states", 88 Proceedings of the American Society of International Law (1994) 22.


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