Albeit the object of compelling criticisms in recent decades, international organizations continue to occupy a very central place in the practical, conceptual, cognitive, imaginary, and emotional universe of international lawyers. This article argues that the resilient centrality of international organizations in international legal thought and practice is the manifestation of international lawyers’ love for such institutions. This article’s main aim is to provide an account of the drivers that inform international lawyers’ love for international organizations with a view to elucidating what lies behind the centrality of international organizations in international legal thought and practice. Among the drivers of international lawyers’ love for international organizations, attention is paid to the representations of international organizations as taking care of people, as showing where to look for power, as knowing so much, as romanticising history, as providing a shared standard of experience, as textualising the universe, as providing and organizing space for discontent, as expanding international lawyers’ field of study, and as holding many secrets.
The Covid-19 pandemic truly has been called a global crisis. To fight the spread of the virus, many States have introduced measures that seriously restrict or affect fundamental rights, ranging from procedural rights to the freedom of movement and the right to personal autonomy. In Europe, it is to be expected that many cases concerning such rights infringements eventually will come before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This contribution aims to give an insight into how the Court will likely give shape to its proportionality test in such cases. It thereby predicts that open balancing review – for which the ECtHR is famous – will play a much less important role than methods of reasoning by analogy and procedural review.
International procedural law remains largely party-oriented and directed at the preservation of individual interests. A tension therefore arises when the ICJ is asked to adjudicate “public interest norms”. Against this background, one might ask whether advisory opinions by the ICJ might serve as a more appropriate forum for protecting and enforcing public interests. Among others, they might prove better equipped for, e.g., clarifying and interpreting public interest obligations without a breach thereof necessarily having already occurred, or in the case of breaches by multiple parties. However, among the generally low numbers of requests for opinions by the ICJ so far only two can be classified as “traditional public interest litigation”. Recent initiatives on “community-oriented” interests have not (yet) moved forward, leaving their true potential open for debate.
The article focuses on the ICJ’s procedural framework in advisory proceedings and its suitability as a forum for enforcing public interests. The argument is made that while indeed several rationales can be identified which make this procedure a seemingly well-suited format for public interest litigation, the filing of requests is often subject to political hurdles and dependent on the overall perception of the Court’s exercise of its judicial function. This is rounded off by a discussion of different proposals and an assessment whether these might lead to a strengthening of the Court’s competence when it comes to serving as a forum for “public interest litigation.”
This article addresses the role of third States in public interest litigation – i.e., ongoing proceedings concerning interests which they share with the international community. It scrutinizes third-State intervention in inter-State cases through the prism of rules and principles arising in public interest litigation, and aims to clarify the limits of such participation. Having synthesized the relevant law and doctrine of intervention practice before the ICJ and other institutional courts, it considers the extent to which third-State interests find expression through Articles 62 and 63 of the ICJ Statute. It examines the invocation of international legal responsibility on the basis of obligations erga omnes and erga omnes partes, as well as the prospect of intervention on this basis. It then identifies and addresses jurisdictional and procedural questions arising in these and other instances of “public interest” intervention. It concludes by envisaging the prospective institutional development of multilateral participation in public interest litigation.
As climate negotiations fail to deliver the progress that States, activists, and others desire to see in tackling climate change, attention is rapidly turning to potential legal responses. This article investigates the potential of the ICJ’s contentious procedure as a forum for climate-related complaints, and focuses in particular on the provisional measures phase of a case. We consider the potential for a climate-related application for interim protection to meet the test set down by the Court for the issuing of a provisional measures order: prima facie jurisdiction, plausibility, and an urgent risk of irreparable prejudice. We conclude that a carefully constructed climate application could meet these criteria, but that it would be important to foresee and take account of a future application for interim protection from the outset in designing a case.
To decide on the question of material jurisdiction under a compromissory clause, the World Court has at times interpreted treaties provisionally, seeing whether these could reasonably, though not per se correctly, be read so as to apply to acts of which an applicant complains. Other times it has interpreted treaties definitively, to assess whether the respondent actually has the obligations it allegedly violated. The former method may be criticised for not basing jurisdiction in consent; the latter for prejudging the merits. This article shows that the Court has nevertheless made the latter its standard approach. But to avoid prejudging the merits, it will only use definitive interpretations to resolve those preliminary objections, or aspects of an objection, which it perceives as raising issues relevant to its material jurisdiction, as opposed to the merits. The article argues this innovation creates uncertainty for the parties and could be a misuse of the definitive approach.
Much of the conceptual work on international organizations situates the identity, nature or legal form of the institution between binary oppositions: ‘open’ vs ‘closed’, ‘agora’ vs ‘actor’, ‘contract’ vs ‘constitution’, etc. These oppositions are informative and revealing of tensions underpinning different aspects of international institutions: the extent to which they are vehicles for their member states versus autonomous actors in their own right; that they have limited, derivative and defined powers, but are also able to evolve and adapt to take on new competences and unforeseen powers, and so on. At the same time, insofar as many of the core doctrines of international institutional law, on e.g. personality, powers, responsibility, etc., rely most heavily on the European Union and the United Nations – arguably two of the most unique institutional structures – as evidence for these doctrinal developments, it is clear that there is something more special, unique, indeed sui generis that needs to be thrown into the conceptual mix in order to fully understand the nature and importance of international institutions in contemporary international law. In this way, I will argue, international institutions have a more complex identity and relationship with international law in which they not only exist within (closed) and as part of (open) contemporary international law, but also aim to overcome its limitations, to transform it in some way. For this reason, rather than being competing understandings of international institutions, the interplay between these kinds of binary oppositions actually only reflect back broader theoretical tensions ingrained within international law as a decentralised legal system – a condition which makes it impossible to definitely ‘pin down’ the seemingly elusive identity of the international organization. However, it is also a condition which allows for the construction of tentative hierarchies and forms of more centralised governance within international law, whilst always leaving scope (through legal form) to challenge any such pretentions to authority. This article is part of the iolr Special Forum on ‘Contested Fundamentals of the Law of International Organizations’.
This article is part of the Special Forum on Contested Fundamentals of the Law of International Organizations. It endorses a possible political economy of international organizations law, and explains why such would be desirable. The dominant approach to international organizations is unable to explain much of what is going on, and thus needs to be replaced by an approach more sensitive to the economic and organizational aspects of international organizations.
Against the backdrop of a recent turn to theory in the field of international organizations law this short article, part of the Special Forum on Contested Fundamentals of the Law of International Organizations, brings to the fore a characteristic of the international organization that should not be missing in the canon of fundamentals in international organizations scholarship. This is the transparency of international organizations as a legal entity and as a legal actor. ‘Transparency’ here refers to the phenomenon that member states and other institutional components are to some extent legally visible. ‘Legally visible’ means that the component parts of an organization, notably the member states, are addressed from, and involved in, the general international plane – a condition which is dynamic and context-dependent. In the words of the ila, organizations are layered creatures, ‘conducting … multilevel operations’. The article sets out how the transparency of organizations is a fundamental in two ways: as a legal-ontological claim, and as an analytical lens. Moreover the transparency of international organizations is subject to systemic and political contestation, albeit often in an implicit manner. The article concludes by arguing that the lens of transparency has lasting relevance and analytical value, as it helps to lay bare an elusive and continual dynamic in the legal manifestation of international organizations.