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The Legal Consequences of Obligations Erga Omnes in International Law

Abstract

While obligations erga omnes have increasingly been referred to in the jurisprudence, the legal consequences of those obligations are not adequately clarified in international law. Thus this article explores the legal effects of obligations erga omnes in general international law. After an examination of the criteria for the identification of obligations erga omnes, this article considers three possible legal consequences of those obligations: (1) the obligation not to recognize illegal situations, (2) third-party countermeasures, and (3) the locus standi of not directly injured States in response to a breach of obligations erga omnes. There is little doubt that the concept of obligations erga omnes is key in protecting the fundamental values and common interests of the international community as a whole or community interests. However, it cannot pass unnoticed that the legal effects of obligations erga omnes can be restricted by several factors. In this sense, it may have to be admitted that the concept of obligations erga omnes remains ambivalent as a means of protecting community interests in international law.

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Notes

  1. Institut de droit international, Resolution: Obligation Erga Omnes in International Law, Krakow Session 2005, available at https://www.idi-iil.org/app/uploads/2017/06/2005_kra_01_en.pdf.

  2. Conclusion 2 of the International Law Commission (ILC)’s draft definition of peremptory norms defines jus cogens as ‘a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character’. This definition, which was based upon Art. 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, seems to be widely accepted in State practice and jurisprudence. ILC, ‘Text of the draft conclusions on peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens) and commentaries thereto’ (hereinafter the ILC’s draft conclusions on peremptory norms), United Nations, Report of the International Law Commission, Seventy-first session A/74/10, 2019, pp. 148–150, paras. 1–2.

  3. In this article, the terms ‘common interests of the international community’ and ‘community interests’ will be used interchangeably. A growing awareness of community interests is a remarkable feature of contemporary international law. Simma (1994), p. 234; Simma (2009), p. 268; Cançado Trindade (2005), p. 35. For community interests in various branches of international law, see Benvenisti and Nolte (2018). It may be less easy to define the concept of community interests a priori in the abstract. The better approach may be to formulate that concept in the process of exploring a possible solution to concrete problems. For an analysis of the concept of community interests, see for instance, Wolfrum (2018), pp. 19 et seq.; Besson (2018), pp. 36 et seq.

  4. Dissenting Opinion of Judge Weeramantry in East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), Judgment of 30 June 1995, ICJ Reports 1995, p. 139, at p. 215. See also p. 214. Simma made a similar criticism. Simma (1994), p. 299.

  5. The term ‘not directly injured States’ was used in Kawasaki (2000), p. 22.

  6. North Sea Continental Shelf (Federal Republic of Germany/Denmark) (Federal Republic of Germany/Netherlands), Judgment of 20 February 1969, ICJ Reports 1969, p. 3, at p. 38, para. 63.

  7. ILC, above n. 2, p. 159, para. 4.

  8. North Sea Continental Shelf (Federal Republic of Germany/Denmark) (Federal Republic of Germany/Netherlands), Judgment of 20 February 1969, ICJ Reports 1969, pp. 42–44, paras. 73–77. The two-element approach is generally endorsed in State practice and the decisions of international courts and tribunals. M. Wood, Second Report on Identification of Customary International Law, A/CN.4/672, 22 May 2014, at p. 7, para. 21; ILC, Text of the Draft Conclusions Provisionally Adopted by the Drafting Committee, A/CN.4/L.872, 30 May 2016, at pp. 1–2.

  9. In this regard, Conclusion 6 of the ILC’s draft conclusions states: ‘1. The requirement of “acceptance and recognition” as a criterion for identifying a peremptory norm of general international law (jus cogens) is distinct from acceptance and recognition as a norm of general international law. 2. To identify a norm as a peremptory norm of general international law (jus cogens), there must be evidence that such a norm is accepted and recognized as one from which no derogation is permitted and which can only be modified by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character’. ILC, above n. 2, at p. 164. According to the ILC’s commentary, ‘the “acceptance and recognition” addressed in draft conclusion 6 is not the same as, for example, acceptance as law (opinio juris), which is an element for the identification of customary international law’. Ibid., para. 2. It would seem to follow that the second opinio juris recognising a rule of international law as having peremptory character is needed to formulate jus cogens. This view was supported by: Villalpando (2005), p. 86; Kawasaki (2006), p. 30.

  10. Villalpando (2005), p. 102.

  11. The ILC considered that the jurisprudence of the ICJ provides ‘strong evidence of the basis of peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens) in customary international law’. ILC, above n. 2, p. 161, para. 5. The same would hold true concerning obligations erga omnes.

  12. Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited (Belgium v. Spain) (New Application: 1962), the Second Phase, Judgment of 5 February 1970, ICJ Reports 1970, p. 3, at p. 32, paras. 33–34.

  13. Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro), Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 11 July 1996, ICJ Reports 1996, p. 595, at p. 616, para. 31.

  14. Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda), Judgment of 3 February 2006, ICJ Reports 2006, pp. 31–32, para. 64.

  15. Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004, ICJ Reports 2004, p. 136, at p. 199, para. 155.

  16. Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, Advisory Opinion of 25 February 2019, ICJ Reports 2019, p. 95, at p. 139, para. 180.

  17. Ibid., p. 199, para. 157.

  18. Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004, ICJ Reports 2004, p. 199, para. 155.

  19. Responsibilities and Obligations of States Sponsoring Persons and Entities with Respect to Activities in the Area, Advisory Opinion of 1 February 2011, ITLOS Case No. 17, ITLOS Reports 2011, p. 10, at p. 59, para. 180. For an analysis of this paragraph, see Tanaka (2013), pp. 226–227.

  20. Montego Bay, 10 December 1982, in force 16 November 1994, 1833 UNTS 3.

  21. Chandrasekhara Rao and Gautier (2018), p. 138 and p. 327; Tanaka (2019), p. 195; Johnstone (2015), p. 223.

  22. The UN Secretary-General, in the report of 1989, stated that ‘articles 192 and 193 are generally regarded as statements of customary international law on the extent of the environmental responsibility of States towards the oceans’. United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment: Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. A/44/461, 18 September 1989, p. 10, para. 29. In addition, the OSPAR Convention, in its Preamble, recalled ‘the relevant provisions of customary international law reflected in Part XII of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention’. Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (Paris, 22 September 1992, in force 25 March 1998), 2354 UNTS 67.

  23. This view is supported by commentators, including: Birnie et al. (2009), p. 387; Sands et al. (2018), p. 462; Czybulka (2017), pp. 1284–1285; Harrison (2017), pp. 24–25.

  24. Harrison (2017), pp. 24–25.

  25. Southern Bluefin Tuna Cases (New Zealand v. Japan; Australia v. Japan), Provisional Measures, Order of 27 August 1999, ITLOS Case Nos. 3 and 4, 27 August 1999, ITLOS Reports 1999, p. 280, at p. 295, para. 70.

  26. South China Sea Arbitration (Philippines v. China), Award (Merits), 12 July 2016, PCA Case No. 2013-19, para. 941 and para. 956.

  27. Furundžija, IT-95-17/1-T, 10 December 1998, p. 58, para. 151.

  28. Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Advisory Opinion OC-18/03, September 17, 2003, Requested by the United Mexican States, Judicial Condition and Rights of Undocumented Migrants, p. 113, para. 5 of the dispositif.

  29. European Court of Justice, Council of the European Union v. Front populaire pour la libération de la saguia-el-hamra et du rio de oro (Front Polisario), Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber), 21 December 2016, Case C-104/16 P, ECLI:EU:C:2016:973, para. 88.

  30. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 78 UNTS 279. Entered into force 12 January 1951. See also Longobardo (2015), p. 1202.

  31. Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar), Request for provisional measures, Order of 23 January 2020 (not yet reported), para. 41, available at https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/178/178-20200123-ORD-01-00-EN.pdf. Even Myanmar accepted that ‘because of the erga omnes partes character of some obligations under the [Genocide] Convention, The Gambia has an interest in Myanmar’s compliance with such obligations’. Ibid., para. 39.

  32. Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), Judgment, 20 July 2012, ICJ Reports 2012-II, p. 422, at p. 449, para. 68.

  33. Thirlway (2019), p. 169.

  34. Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004, ICJ Reports 2004, p. 199, para. 155.

  35. East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), Judgment of 30 June 1995, ICJ Reports 1995, p. 90, at p. 102, para. 29.

  36. Thirlway (2013), p. 1155. See also p. 1153, fn. 239.

  37. Ibid., p. 1505. See also p. 593, fn. 205.

  38. Separate Opinion of Judge Oda in Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Application by Malta for Permission to Intervene, ICJ Reports 1981, p. 32, para. 19. According to Judge Oda, the sovereign rights over the continental shelf can also be regarded as rights erga omnes. Ibid., p. 27, para. 9. See also the Dissenting Opinion of Judge Oda in Continental Shelf (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya/Malta), Application by Italy for Permission to Intervene, ICJ Reports 1984, p. 108, para. 37.

  39. Thirlway (2013), p. 1151 and p. 1154; Villalpando (2005), p. 100.

  40. Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited (Belgium v. Spain) (New Application: 1962), the Second Phase, Judgment of 5 February 1970, ICJ Reports 1970, p. 32, para. 33.

  41. Gaetano Arangio Ruiz, Fourth Report on State Responsibility, Yearbook of International Law Commission (1992), vol. II, Part One, p. 34, para. 92.

  42. Voeffray (2004), p. 243. Further, see Tams (2005), pp. 130–131.

  43. Gerald Fitzmaurice, Law of Treaties, Second Report, Yearbook of the International Law Commission (1957), vol. II, at p. 54, para. 126.

  44. Tams (2005), p. 131.

  45. Ibid., pp. 131–133.

  46. Iwasawa (2008), p. 150.

  47. Tams (2005), p. 138.

  48. Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited (Belgium v. Spain) (New Application: 1962), the Second Phase, Judgment of 5 February 1970, ICJ Reports 1970, p. 32, paras. 33–34.

  49. Gaja (2005a), p. 126.

  50. Villalpando (2005), p. 104.

  51. Conclusion 3 of the ILC’s draft conclusions on peremptory norms made it clear that: ‘Peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens) reflect and protect fundamental values of the international community, are hierarchically superior to other rules of international law and are universally applicable’. Above n. 2, p. 142.

  52. On this issue, see Linderfalk (2011), pp. 1 et seq.

  53. Crawford (2002), p. 244, para. 7.

  54. Distefano (2019), p. 261.

  55. Iwasawa (2008), pp. 150–151.

  56. Thirlway (2019), p. 173.

  57. Tams (2005), p. 134; Iwasawa (2008), p. 150.

  58. See also Iwasawa (2008), pp. 150–151.

  59. The relationship between obligations erga omnes and jus cogens has been a subject of extensive debate. On this issue, see for instance, Byers (1997), pp. 211 et seq.; Ragazzi (1997), pp. 190 et seq.; Villalpando (2005), pp. 106–108; Verhoeven (2008), p. 244; Thouvenin (2006), pp. 326–327; Brilmayer and Tesfalidet (2011), pp. 21–25; Picone (2011), pp. 411 et seq.

  60. Crawford (2002), p. 192, para. 3.

  61. Gaja (2005b), p. 193. The Institut de droit international supported the erga omnes character of the obligation to protect human rights. Institut de droit international, Resolution, ‘The Protection of Human Rights and the Principle of Non-Intervention in Internal Affairs of States’ (Art. 1), available at https://www.idi-iil.org/app/uploads/2017/06/1989_comp_03_en.pdf.

  62. Crawford (2002), p. 192, para. 3.

  63. See for instance, Abi-Saab (1999), p. 348; Byers (1997), pp. 236–237; Cançado Trindade (2005), p. 354; Dominicé (2013), p. 131; Iwasawa (2008), p. 153; Picone (2011), p. 417; Villalpando (2005), pp. 106–108; Voeffray (2004), pp. 259–260; Zemanek (2000), p. 6; Thouvenin (2006), pp. 326–327; Orakhelashvili (2006), p. 269; de Wet (2013), p. 9; Costelloe (2017), p. 44.

  64. Gaja (2005b), p. 192. See also Gaja (2005a), p. 128.

  65. Sicilianos (2002), p. 1137.

  66. A/CN.4/SER.A/1998/Add.l (Part 2), Yearbook of International Law Commission (1998), vol. II, Part II, p. 76, para. 326.

  67. See Sect. 2.1 of this article.

  68. Kawasaki (2020), p. 98.

  69. Sur (2012), p. 200; Weil (1992), pp. 270–271.

  70. Tams (2005), p. 141; Marek (1978–1979), p. 468.

  71. Sicilianos (2002), p. 1137.

  72. Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004, ICJ Reports 2004, p. 199, para. 155.

  73. Ibid., p. 200, para. 159. See also dispositive, p. 202, para. 163(3)(D).

  74. Ibid., pp. 216–217, para. 38.

  75. Further, see Costelloe (2017), pp. 193 et seq.

  76. Jørgensen (2010), pp. 688–690; Kawasaki (2018), p. 582.

  77. W. Riphargen, Third Report on State Responsibility, DOCUMENT A/CN.4/354 and Add.l and 2, Yearbook of the International Law Commission (1982), vol. II, Part One, p. 22, at p. 48; W. Riphargen, Sixth Report on State Responsibility, DOCUMENT A/CN.4/389, Yearbook of the International Law Commission (1985), vol. II, Part One, p. 3, at p. 13; Report of the ILC, 48th Session, Yearbook of the International Law Commission (1996), vol. II, Part Two, p. 72.

  78. State Responsibility, Draft Articles Provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee on Second Reading, A/CN.4/L.600, 21 August 2000, p. 1, at p. 11.

  79. Ibid., Art. 41.

  80. Crawford (2002), p. 250, para. 6. See also Dawidowicz (2010), p. 684.

  81. While the 2005 Resolution does not refer to the obligation of non-aid or assistance, arguably this obligation can be considered as a corollary of the obligation of non-recognition. The ILC took the view that in some respects, the obligation of non-aid or assistance can be regarded as a logical extension of the duty of non-recognition. Crawford (2002), p. 252, para. 11.

  82. Ibid., pp. 250–251, paras. 6–8. See also Dawidowicz (2010), pp. 679–682.

  83. Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion of 21 June 1971, ICJ Reports 1971, p. 16, at p. 54, para. 118.

  84. Emphasis added. Ibid., p. 56, para. 126.

  85. Separate Opinion of Judge Kooijmans in the Wall case, ICJ Reports 2004, p. 232, para. 43; Talmon (2006), p. 125; Christakis (2006), p. 128.

  86. Talmon (2006), p. 107.

  87. Kawasaki (2006), p. 41.

  88. Dawidowicz (2010), pp. 684–685; Talmon (2006), pp. 118–120.

  89. Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion of 21 June 1971, ICJ Reports 1971, pp. 55–56, paras. 122–124.

  90. Dawidowicz (2010), p. 685.

  91. UN General Assembly Resolution, A/RES/ES-10/13, 27 October 2003. See also Separate Opinion of Judge Kooijmans, ICJ Reports 2004, p. 232, para. 44.

  92. In this regard, Judge Kooijmans stated that ‘The duty not to recognise amounts, […] to an obligation without real substance’. Ibid., p. 232, para. 44. See also Talmon (2006), p. 106.

  93. Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) notwithstanding Security Council Resolution 276 (1970), Advisory Opinion of 21 June 1971, ICJ Reports 1971, p. 56, para. 125.

  94. The 2005 Resolution, above n. 1.

  95. Talmon (2006), pp. 122–123.

  96. Dawidowicz (2006), p. 333.

  97. Yearbook of the International Law Commission (2000), vol. II, Part 2, A/CN.4/SER.A/2000/Add.1 (Part 2)/Rev.1, p. 70.

  98. Ibid., p. 69.

  99. Fourth Report on State Responsibility, A/CN.4/517 (2001), at p. 18, para. 74.

  100. See Art. 54 of the Draft Articles on State Responsibility.

  101. They were: USA-Uganda (1978), certain western countries-Poland and Soviet Union (1981), collective measures against Argentina (1982), USA-South Africa (1986), collective measures against Iraq (1990), and collective measures against Yugoslavia (1998). Crawford (2002), pp. 302–304, para. 3. For a detailed examination of State practice on this matter, see Tams (2005), pp. 207–251; Dawidowicz (2006), pp. 350–407.

  102. Crawford (2002), p. 305, para. 6. However, this view was challenged by certain commentators, including: Dawidowicz (2006), p. 409; Sicilianos (2002), p. 1143; Tams (2005), p. 231; Iwasawa (2008), p. 161.

  103. Crawford (2002), p. 305, para. 6.

  104. The 2005 Resolution, above n. 1.

  105. See for instance, Villalpando (2005), pp. 411–412; Tams (2005), p. 249; Dawidowicz (2006), p. 418; Iwasawa (2008), p. 162; Orakhelashvili (2006), pp. 271–272; de Wet (2013), p. 10; Longobardo (2015), p. 1204 and p. 1206; Tams and Asteriti (2013), p. 177.

  106. After examining some 22 instances relevant to third-party countermeasures, Dawidowicz argued that ‘State practice has developed in a constant and uniform fashion over the course of the last six decades’ and that ‘State practice today is neither limited nor embryonic’. Dawidowicz (2006), p. 409. In addition, Tams and Asteriti examined the EC/EU’s practice of third-party countermeasures and observed that international practice on this matter is ‘surprisingly wide-spread’. Tams and Asteriti (2013), pp. 173–176.

  107. Orakhelashvili (2006), p. 272. Indeed, according to Thirlway, ‘the essence of erga omnes obligations is that they are enforceable by any member of the relevant community […], even if the breach of the obligation has caused that member no injury, and may or may not have caused injury to some other member’. Thirlway (2019), p. 169.

  108. Koskenniemi (2001), p. 343.

  109. Alland (2002), pp. 1235–1236.

  110. Crawford (2012), p. 589.

  111. Tams and Asteriti (2013), p. 172.

  112. Gaja (2012), p. 132.

  113. A recent example is provided by: UN General Assembly Resolution, Advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, 24 May 2019, A/RES/73/295. In this resolution, the General Assembly affirmed that ‘the continued administration of the Chagos Archipelago by the United Kingdom […] constitutes a wrongful act entailing the international responsibility of that State’ and that ‘Since respect for the right to self-determination is an obligation erga omnes, all States have a legal interest in protecting that right and all Member States are under an obligation to cooperate with the United Nations in order to complete the decolonization of Mauritius’. Ibid., para. 2(c) and (e).

  114. Tanaka (2013), p. 229.

  115. Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, A/RES/2625(XXV), 24 October 1970, First principle, para. 6.

  116. ILC’s draft conclusions on peremptory norms, above n. 2, p. 193, para. 2.

  117. See also Art. 50(1)(d) of the ILC’s Draft Articles on State Responsibility.

  118. Footnote omitted. Crawford (2002), p. 188, para. 4. See also, ibid., p. 290, para. 9.

  119. Kawasaki (2006), pp. 37–38.

  120. In this connection, the Barcelona Traction case merits mention. In this case, the ICJ ruled that in order to bring a claim in respect of the breach of obligations arising vis-à-vis ‘another State in the field of diplomatic protection’, a State must establish that its rights were violated. Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited (Belgium v. Spain) (New Application: 1962), the Second Phase, Judgment of 5 February 1970, ICJ Reports 1970, pp. 33–34, para. 35. The opposite interpretation does seem to imply that States are not required to establish a violation of their rights when bringing a claim with regard to the breach of obligations erga omnes; and that all States would have standing to respond to breaches of these obligations by instituting proceedings before the ICJ. In light of this, the Barcelona Traction case may provide an implicit example regarding the locus standi in response to an alleged breach of obligations erga omnes. Tanaka (2018b), p. 531; Tanaka (2019), p. 197. A similar view was expressed by certain commentators, including: Tams (2005), pp. 164–165; Villalpando (2005), pp. 285–286; Orakhelashvili (2006), p. 524.

  121. See Tanaka (2018b), pp. 527–554.

  122. Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), Judgment of 20 July 2012, ICJ Reports 2012, p. 422. See also Tanaka (2018b), pp. 538–540.

  123. Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), Judgment of 20 July 2012, ICJ Reports 2012, pp. 429–30, para. 14; Verbatim record 2012/6, 19 March 2012, pp. 59–60.

  124. Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), Judgment of 20 July 2012, ICJ Reports 2012, p. 448, paras. 64–65.

  125. Ibid., at p. 450, para. 70.

  126. Ibid., para. 69.

  127. Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Provisional Measures, Order of 23 January 2020 (not yet reported), para. 41, available at https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/178/178-20200123-ORD-01-00-EN.pdf.

  128. Ibid., para. 42.

  129. Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening), Judgment of 31 March 2014, ICJ Reports 2014, p. 226. For an analysis of the locus standi in this case, see Tanaka (2018b), pp. 535–538; Tanaka (2019), pp. 202–203.

  130. Entered into force 10 November 1948. The electronic text of the ICRW is available at https://iwc.int/convention.

  131. The Statute of the International Court of Justice, entered into force on 24 October 1945. The text is available at http://www.icj-cij.org/en/statute. Australia and Japan accepted the jurisdiction of the ICJ in 2002 and 2007, respectively.

  132. The electronic text of the ICRW is available at https://iwc.int/convention.

  133. Sakai (2016), p. 314.

  134. Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening), Judgment of 31 March 2014, ICJ Reports 2014, p. 246, para. 40; p. 244, para. 35.

  135. Judge Bhandari asked the following question of Australia: ‘What injury, if any, has Australia suffered as a result of Japan’s alleged breach of the ICRW through JARPA II?’, Verbatim Record, 3 July 2013, CR 2013/13, p. 73, para. 35.

  136. Presentation by H. Burmester, Verbatim Record, CR 2013/18, 9 July 2013, p. 28, para. 19. See also Presentation by L. Boisson de Chazournes, CR 2013/18, 9 July 2013, p. 23, para. 19 (translation). See also ibid., para. 18 and para. 20.

  137. Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening), Judgment of 31 March 2014, ICJ Reports 2014, p. 239, para. 25.

  138. Crawford (2013), p. 373; Crawford (2014), p. 273.

  139. Crawford (2011), p. 236.

  140. Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan: New Zealand intervening), Judgment of 31 March 2014, ICJ Reports 2014, p. 246, para. 41. After the Whaling in the Antarctic judgment, on 6 October 2015, Japan made a new reservation to its declaration accepting the ICJ’s jurisdiction under Art. 36(2) of the Statute of the Court, precluding ‘any dispute arising out of, concerning, or relating to research on, or conservation, management or exploitation of, living resources of the sea’ from the jurisdiction of the Court. Tanaka (2018b), pp. 544–545.

  141. Fitzmaurice (2015), p. 110; Ishizuka (2016), p. 75; Tanaka (2018b), p. 542; Tanaka (2019), p. 203.

  142. 2005 Resolution, above n. 1.

  143. Notably, Judge Crawford stated that: ‘It is now established—contrary to the inferences commonly drawn from the merits phase of South West Africa—that States can be parties to disputes about obligations in the performance of which they have no specific material interests’. Dissenting Opinion of Judge Crawford in Obligations Concerning Negotiations Relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom), Preliminary Objections, Judgment, ICJ Reports (2016), p. 833, at p. 1102, para. 22. See also Tams (2005), pp. 210–211; Tams and Asteriti (2013), p. 170.

  144. In this connection, see also Benvenisti (2018), pp. 70–85.

  145. The author examined the limitations associated with international adjudication in response to an alleged breach of an obligation erga omnes partes. Tanaka (2018b), pp. 542–545; Tanaka (2019), pp. 206–211. Basically the same limitations can be identified in contentious cases regarding an alleged breach of an obligation erga omnes in general international law.

  146. Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda), Jurisdiction of the Court and Admissibility of the Application, Judgment of 3 February 2006, ICJ Reports 2006, p. 32, para. 64.

  147. East Timor (Portugal v. Australia), Judgment of 30 June 1995, ICJ Reports 1995, p. 102, para. 29. See also Bernhardt (1999), pp. 115–116.

  148. Ibid., pp. 102–106, paras. 23–35.

  149. Ibid., p. 105, para. 34. See also p. 106, para. 38.

  150. Monetary Gold Removed from Rome in 1943 (Italy v. France, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America), Judgment of 15 June 1954, ICJ Reports 1954, p. 32. Further, see Tanaka (2018b), p. 544; Tanaka (2019), p. 209. For the ICJ’s approach to the consensual basis for jurisdiction, see Gaja (2012), pp. 110 et seq.; Kawano (2009), pp. 419–421; Kawano (2012), pp. 219–220. For the Monetary Gold rule, see Thienel (2014), p. 321.

  151. Nuclear Tests (Australia v. France) (New Zealand v. France), Judgment of 20 December, ICJ Reports 1974, pp. 270–271, para. 55.

  152. Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom) (hereinafter the Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom case), Judgment, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 5 October 2016, ICJ Reports 2016, p. 833.

  153. Memorial of the Marshall Islands, 16 March 2015, p. 21, para. 28.

  154. Ibid., p. 49, para. 110.

  155. Ibid., p. 98, para. 231. See also p. 19, para. 26.

  156. The Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom case, Preliminary Objections, Judgment of 5 October 2016, ICJ Reports 2016, p. 856, para. 59. For the same reason, the ICJ dismissed the two separate cases between the Marshall Islands and India and Pakistan: Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. Pakistan), Judgment of 5 October 2016, Jurisdiction of the Court and Admissibility of the Application, ICJ Reports 2016, p. 552; Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. India), Judgment of 5 October 2016, Jurisdiction of the Court and Admissibility of the Application, ICJ Reports 2016, p. 255. The ‘awareness’ requirement applied by the majority opinion has been the subject of extensive debate, but the examination of this subject falls outside the scope of this article.

  157. Tanaka (2018b), p. 541; Tanaka (2019), p. 205.

  158. Kawasaki (2000), p. 26; Gaja (2012), p. 107; Crawford (2006), para. 49.

  159. Kawasaki (2000), p. 27.

  160. Ibid.

  161. The issue of the methodology for the valuation of environmental damage was vividly raised in Certain Activities Carried Out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua), Compensation, Judgment of 2 February 2018, ICJ Reports 2018, p. 15. On this issue, see Kindji and Faure (2019), pp. 5 et seq.; Cittadino (2019), pp. 35 et seq.; Rudall (2020), pp. 25–32.

  162. See also Almeida (2019), p. 165.

  163. See also Tanaka (2018b), pp. 542–543.

  164. Memorial of the Marshall Islands, 16 March 2015, p. 98, para. 231.

  165. Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1994, p. 226, at p. 243, para. 35.

  166. Declaration of Judge Xue in the Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom case, ICJ Reports 2016, p. 1031, para. 8. See also the Dissenting Opinion of Judge Crawford, ibid., p. 1102, para. 22.

  167. Separate Opinion of Judge Tomka in the Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom case, ICJ Reports 2016, pp. 898–899, paras. 38–39.

  168. Ibid., p. 899, para. 40.

  169. See Sect. 3.1 of this article.

  170. Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965, Advisory Opinion of 25 February 2019, ICJ Reports 2019, p. 140, para. 183(3) and (4).

  171. UN General Assembly Resolution, above n. 113, para. 3.

  172. As noted, ITLOS, in its Advisory Opinion of 2011, affirmed the erga omnes character of the environmental protection of the high seas and the Area. See Sect. 2.1 of this article. It then specified multiple obligations for sponsoring States to protect the environment of the Area. See Responsibilities and Obligations of States Sponsoring Persons and Entities with Respect to Activities in the Area, Advisory Opinion of 1 February 2011, ITLOS Case No. 17, ITLOS Reports 2011, p. 44, paras. 121–122.

  173. Gaja (2012), p. 119.

  174. This view was supported by certain commentators, including: Bernhardt (1999), p. 120; Murphy (2000), p. 27; Benzing (2006), pp. 399–400.

  175. See also Gaja (2012), p. 121.

  176. Declaration of Judge Greenwood in Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of the Congo), Compensation Owed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Republic of Guinea, ICJ Reports 2012, p. 394, para. 8. Similarly, the ILC stated that: ‘International law is a legal system’. ILC, Conclusions of the work of the Study Group on the Fragmentation of International Law: Difficulties arising from the Diversification and Expansion of International Law, Yearbook of International Law Commission (2006), vol. II, p. 177, para. 251(1). See also Dominicé (2013), p. 35; Crawford (2014), pp. 174 et seq.; Benvenisti (2018), pp. 74–76.

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Tanaka, Y. The Legal Consequences of Obligations Erga Omnes in International Law. Neth Int Law Rev 68, 1–33 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40802-021-00184-9

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Keywords

  • Obligations erga omnes
  • Jus cogens
  • Obligation of non-recognition
  • Third-party countermeasures
  • Locus standi
  • International Court of Justice