International Law: Midterm Exam

International Law: Midterm Exam

  1. The crème de la crème of international lawyers are gathered in Paris. The representative of Slovenia was giving a presentation on the mandatory character of all decisions rendered by the International Court of Justice. The representative from the UK became very agitated, and said that he had no idea that such decisions created precedents.  Pousa wanted to speak out, but suffering from a very bad cold, wasn’t able to.  Trembling with fever, she was able to hand the ICJ Statute over to her students and prompted them to speak on her behalf.  How should they have responded?

Referring to the prior decisions made by the international court of justice regarding the case at hand, it follows that it is important to have an accurate representation of the legal precedent, and our primary focus should be on each state. International law and decisions should be a reflection of how each state view the world, and this cannot happen when interests in the case are in sharp conflict.  The great interests in the case would render the verdict of the judicial settlement unacceptable if no agreement or prior information was given regarding the decisions that create precedents.  Article 38(1) of the ICJ statute clearly states the function of the court in making decisions in accordance with international law to such disputes as are submitted to it.


  1. Assassinations, frauds, and robberies occur daily. Criminal Law prohibits these acts. Does it mean that Criminal Law does not exist? It is important to understand that criminal law exists. It is also referred to as substantive criminal laws that define crimes and establish punishments. The government prohibits acts such as fraud, robbery and assassination but citizens keep on committing them maybe because according to them, the government is relaxed on implementing the law effectively. Similarly, such crimes are committed because of self-interest. Therefore, it is the duty of the government to ensure it protects and control crimes committed by citizens. It should effectively implement the law to bar citizens from breaking them.         

Can the same be said in relation to violations of International Law? No, we cannot compare the international law with the domestic legal system. This is because; the international community does not have one legislature, judiciary, executive and police to enforce the law. However, citizens have certain fundamental rights that the government should not deny them.

Is International Law really Law?

International law is a real law when its principles and decisions are enforced beyond state consent and also goodwill among parties to a treaty. Similarly, international law is a real law when it possesses different characteristics from the domestic settings.

  1. Black Eyed Peas has recently signed a new juicy record international agreement with Sony International. The group now refuses to comply since they have been asked to perform with Justin Bieber. Sony has threatened to take the group to the ICJ for violation of this international treaty.  Both Black Eyed Peas and Sony are international organizations that deal with music. The Black Eyed Peas group has violated the treaty signed by refusing to perform with Justin Bieber. It is important for the two organizations to terminate the treaty if they do not find it mutually beneficial. They must terminate it by the consent of the parties. Also, since there was a violation of the treaty, the innocent party of a bilateral treaty might decide to invoke that breach as the basis to terminate the treaty.


  1. Summarize the main points of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) North Sea Continental Shelf cases in relation to the formation of customary international law.

The legal system of the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases has embarked on a dual requirement for forming customary international law. They include the state practice or the objective element and the opinio juris or the subjective element. According to the case, the state practice of importance was for those states whose interests relied and were affected by the custom. Similarly, uniform and consistency practice was important to show opinion juris. Moreover, the case banished the myth that stated, the duration of practice was a critical factor in forming the customary international law.


  1. Countries A, B and C concluded an international treaty. There is no explicit ban to make reservations. Country D wishes to join but it wants to make a reservation. Country C accepted the reservation, country B accepted D joining the treaty but does not accept the reservation; country C does not accept such a reservation to the treaty. If D wants to enter the treaty it must withdraw the reservation. Is there a treaty between A and D, B and D, C and D? There was a treaty between countries A and D. However, no treaty was entered between countries B and D and C and D. 

If “yes” how is the reservation affecting each of the treaty relationships between D and each of the others – A, B, C? When a treaty is entered between countries A and D, the reservations advocated by country D will encourage a wider participation in the treaty through practical compromise.      

  1. The structure of the international society follows the vertical model of the domestic legal systems. It is false since the international society encompasses a constellation of sovereign states and other known international organizations which are distributed in a horizontal and authoritative manner.   
  2. What is jus cogens?

It refers to the peremptory principles of the international law that does not permit derogation. These principles are recognized and accepted by the international community and helps in maintaining international legal order.

 8. Which treaties are considered “a source of international law” under article 38 ICJ Statute?

According to article 38 ICJ, the general treaties or law-making treaties constitute the primary source of international law. Similarly, they are treaties that are in force and binding upon the parties to certain dispute.

  1. Where do we find the “general principles of law recognized by civilized nations” (art 38 ICJ Statute)?

Since all nations are now considered civilized, we shall consider the established principles of law that are common to all major legal systems. The established principles of law include abuse of right or good faith.


  1. Who is a “persistent objector”?

It refers to a state which the existing customary law would not apply to it due to the following criteria. First, if at the initial stages, it objected to any outside attempts to apply the rule in a consistent manner. Second, if the other states did not object to her resistance.

  1. The UN General Assembly of the United Nations has just adopted Resolution 1678 in which orders the Republic of Panama to suspend the Carnivals (culecos) in order to safeguard the sources of water in the region. What can Panama do about it?

It is important for Panama to comply with the resolution for its benefit. However, competent representative of the country should come out and try to solve the issue at hand. The president of the republic can request for a dialogue and assure the United Nations that they will fulfil the responsibility of dealing with the problem. Also, the budget committee of the national assembly can reduce the amount of money allocated to Carnivals to reduce the cost. They should address the benefits they get from the festival which is usually regarded as unique and enjoyable. On the other hand, the UN General assembly would like to protect the source of water in the region since during the celebrations a lot of water is wasted.

  1. What is a treaty, in accordance to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties?

It refers to a written form of an agreement that has been concluded between states and governed by international law. Similarly, it involves whether the agreement is embodied in a single, two or more instruments and whatever the designation.


  1. What is unilateral acts?

These are acts that create unilateral legal obligations to the acting state.

  1. Who has authority to conclude a treaty on the part of states?

Treaties are concluded by competent individuals who represent the States. They include the Head of States, Head of government, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Diplomatic Missions and they are all presumed to have such power to conclude a treaty.


  1. Do treaties bind third states?

According to third states, treaties do not create obligations or rights without their consent. Also, treaties create laws between states which are parties of it.

  1. What does the principle pacta sunt servanda mean?

The principle states that all the signatories should upheld the international treaties. It is a principle that is based on good faith. Therefore, agreements must be kept.

  1. What does the fundamental change of circumstances entail for a treaty?

It entails the basis for the termination or suspension of the treaty obligation. Moreover, it is based on the radical transformation of such obligations due to unforeseen change of situations which encompassed primary basis of the party’s agreement to the treaty.

  1. What is the difference between monism and dualism?

Monism advocates that both internal and international law should be regarded as a unified legal system. States should not translate international law into national law. On the other hand, dualism postulates that distinction should be made between the national and international law.



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