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Traditional and Modern Approaches to Customary International Law: A Reconciliation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2017

Extract

The demise of custom as a source of international law has been widely forecasted. This is because both the nature and the relative importance of custom’s constituent elements are contentious. At the same time, custom has become an increasingly significant source of law in important areas such as human rights obligations. Codification conventions, academic commentary, and the case law of the International Court of Justice (the Court) have also contributed to a contemporary resurrection of custom. These developments have resulted in two apparently opposing approaches, which I term “traditional custom” and “modern custom.” The renaissance of custom requires the articulation of a coherent theory that can accommodate its classic foundations and contemporary developments. This article seeks to provide an enriched theoretical account of custom that incorporates both the traditional and the modern approaches rather than advocating one approach over the other.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of International Law 2001

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References

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156 Id.

157 Id. at 65–66.

158 Id. at 255.

159 Id. at 256.

160 Id.

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173 See Nicaragua, 1986 ICJ Rep. 14; Namibia Advisory Opinion, 1971 ICJ Rep. 16; Corfu Channel case (UK v. Alb.), Merits, 1949 ICJ Rep. 4, 34 (Apr. 9).

174 Kirgis, supra note 42, at 149.

175 Id.

176 Simma & Alston, supra note 18, at 83.

177 Tasioulas, supra note 42, at 113.

178 E.g., North Sea Continental Shelf, 1969 ICJ Rep. 3.

179 Koskenniemi, supra note 45, at 2.

180 Kirgis, supra note 42, at 149.

181 Wimbledon, S.S., 1923 PCIJ (ser. A) No. 1, at 25 (Aug. 17)Google Scholar; see also North Sea Continental Shelf, 1969 ICJ Rep. at 231 (Lachs, J., dissenting); id. at 241, 246–47 (Sørensen, J. ad hoc, dissenting); Nottebohrn case (Liech.v. Guat.), Second Phase, 1955 ICJ Rep. 4, 22 (Apr. 6).

182 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 246–47, 255–57.

183 Id.

184 John, King Gamble & Charlotte, Ku, New Actors and New Technologies: Center Stage for NGOs? 31 Law & Pol’y Int’l Bus. 221, 24344 (2000)Google Scholar.

185 Karsten, Nowrot, Legal Consequences of Globalization: The Status of Non–Governmental Organizations Under International Law, 6 Ind. J. Global Legal. Stud. 579, 595 (1999)Google Scholar; Peter, J. Spiro, New Global Potentates: Nongovernmental Organizations and the “Unregulated” Marketplace, 18 Cardozo L. Rev. 957, 95960 (1996)Google Scholar.

186 ICJ Statute Art. 38(1) (d).

187 See examples in Brownlie, supra note 6, at 19–25.

188 ICJ Statute Art. 59; see also Brownlie, supra note 6, at 20–21.

189 For example, torture was held to be against customary international law but remains common throughout the world. Filartiga v. Pena–Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (1980).

190 For example, consumer boycotts were called on French products over French nuclear testing. Protests Hurt Wine’s Sales, N.Y. Times, Dec. 25, 1995, §1, at 58. Similarly, many U.S. corporations terminated their presence in South Africa in protest over apartheid well before they were required to do so by federal laws. Kevin, P. Lewis, Dealing with South Africa: The Constitutionality of State and Local Divestment Legislation, 61 Tul. L. rev.. 469, (1987)Google Scholar.

191 For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross played a pivotal role in the initiation and negotiation of the Ottawa convention banning land mines. Kenneth, Anderson, The Ottawa Convention Banning Landmines, the Role of International Non–Governmental Organizations and the Idea of International Civil Society, 11 Eur. J. Int’l L. 91 (2000)Google Scholar.

192 Nowrot, supra note 185, at 596–98.

193 Isabelle, R. Gunning, Modernizing Customary International Law: The Challenge of Human Rights, 31 Va. J. Int’l L. 211, 22734 (1991)Google Scholar.

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195 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 285.

196 Id.

197 Geny, in D’Amato, supra note 6, at 49.

198 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 246–47, 255–57.

199 S.S. “Lotus” (Fr. v. Turk.), 1927 PCIJ (ser. A) No. 10, at 18 (Sept. 7). The Court affirmed this principle in Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, 1996 ICJ Rep. 226, 238, para. 20 (July 8). These decisions establish a residual negative principle, which provides that in the case of a non liquet (an absence of law), whatever is not prohibited in international law is permitted. Daniel, Bodansky, Non Liquet and the Incompleteness of International Law, in International Law, The International Court of Justice and Nuclear Weapons 153 (Laurence, Boisson de Chazournes & Philippe, Sands eds., 1999)Google Scholar; Ole, Spiermann, Lotus and the Double Structure of International Legal Argument, in id. at 131 Google Scholar; Julius, Stone, Non Liquet and the Function of Law in the International Community, 1959 Brit. Y. B. Int’l L. 124, 135 Google Scholar.

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201 D’Amato, supra note 6, at 97–98.

202 Schachter, supra note 15, at 335.

203 See “The Fluid Nature of Custom, ” infra p. 784.

204 Richard, A. Falk, Kosovo, World Order, and the Future of International Law, 93 AJIL 847,. 853, (1999)Google Scholar.

205 Charney, supra note 21, at 543; Henkin, supra note 25, at 36.

206 Louis, Henkin, International Law: Politics and Values 18081 (1995)Google Scholar; Bradley & Goldsmith, supra note 35, at 840–41; Henkin, supra note 25, at 38; Simma & Alston, supra note 18, at 99.

207 E.g., Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (1980); The Paquete Habana, 175 U.S. 677 (1900); see also Chibundu, M. O., Making Customary International Law Through Municipal Adjudication: A Structural Inquiry, 39 Va. J. Int’l L. 1069 (1999)Google Scholar.

208 Chodosh, supra note 17, at 121; Simma & Alston, supra note 18, at 90–100; Watson, supra note 143, at 609–12; Arthur, A. Weisburd, The Effect of Treaties and Other Formal International Acts on the Customary Law of Human Rights, 25 Ga. J. Int’l & Comp. L. 99, 129 (1995/96)Google Scholar; Weisburd, Customary IL, supra note 31, at 41.

208 Schachter, supra note 48, at 10.

210 Meron, supra note 2, at 61.

211 S.S. “Lotus” (Fr. v. Turk.), 1927 PCIJ (ser. A) No. 10, at 28 (Sept. 7). The Court affirmed this principle in North Sea Continental Shelf (FRG/Den.; FRG/Neth.), 1969 ICJ Rep. 3, 44 (Feb. 20); see also Simma 8c Alston, supra note 18, at 99–100, 104.

212 D’Amato, supra note 6, at 62, 63; Akehurst, supra note 7, at 43–47.

213 Akehurst, supra note 7, at 37; MacGibbon, Acquiescence I, supra note 115, at 145–46; MacGibbon, Acquiescence II, supra note 115, at 138.

214 Barcelona Traction, Light & Power Co. (Belg. v. Spain), Second Phase, 1970 ICJ Rep. 3, 31 (Feb. 5).

215 Wolfke, supra note 115, at 135; Weisburd, supra note 208, at 107–09; see also Akehurst, supra note 7, at 39.

216 Henkin, supra note 25, at 41.

217 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 192–93; Kelly, supra note 1, at 522.

218 D’Amato, supra note 6, at 68–70; Charney, supra note 21, at 536–38.

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220 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 256.

221 Christine, Chinkin, The Challenge of Soft Law: Development and Change in International Law, 38 Int’l. & Comp. L.Q. 850, 861, 865 (1989)Google Scholar-; Fastenrath, supra note 49, at 323.

222 Holmes, supra note 52, at 459–62; Martti, Koskenniemi, The Police in the Temple—Order, Justice and the UN: A Dialectical View, 6 Eur. J. Int’l L. 325 (1995)Google Scholar.

223 Kelly, supra note 1, at 458; Kennedy, supra note 102, at 347.

224 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 246–47, 255–57.

225 Id. at 257.

226 Stanley, Fish, Working on the Chain Gang: Interpretation in Law and Literature, 60 Tex. L. Rev. 551, 559 (1982)Google Scholar; Stanley, Fish, Wrong Again, 62 Tex. L. Rev. 299, 306 (1983)Google Scholar.

227 Richard A. Falk, Presentation [on the extent of ideological neutrality of international law and international lawyers], in Change and Stability, supra note 3, at 137, 137.

228 Bedjaoui, supra note 121, at 136–37.

229 South West Africa (Eth. v. S. Afr.; Liber, v. S. Afr.), Second Phase, 1966 ICJ Rep. 6, 34 (July 18); cf. Christian, Tomuschat, Obligations Arising for States Without or Against Their Will, 241 Recueil des Cours 195, 303 (1993 IV)Google Scholar.

230 Kennedy, supra note 102, at 407.

231 Bedjaoui, supra note 121, at 141. While developing states hold the majority of power, these norms may still be criticized for allowing the majority to bind the minority.

232 Karl, N. Llewellyn, The Common Law Tradition: Deciding Appeals 3545 (1960)Google Scholar.

233 See also “coherentism” in epistemology. Nicholas, Everitt & Alec Fisher, Modern Epistemology 10207 (1995)Google Scholar.

234 Thomas, M. Franck, Fairness in International Law and Institutions 38 (1995)Google Scholar; Thomas, M. Franck, The Power of Legitimacy Among Nations 150 (1990)Google Scholar; Franck, supra note 56, at 735–36.

235 Rawls, supra note 46, at 20; John, Rawls, Outline of a Decision Procedure for Ethics, 60 Phil. Rev. 177 (1951)Google Scholar; see also Dworkin, supra note 46, at 66 n.17.1 am not arguing that the international system is akin to Rawls’s concept of the “original position”; rather, that his notion of a reflective equilibrium can be used more generally to reconcile inductive and deductive methodologies.

236 Rawls, supra note 46, at 21.

237 Id. at 19–20.

238 Grice, G. R., Moral Theories and Received Opinion, 52 Aristotelian Soc’y Proc. 1 (Supp. 1978)Google Scholar; Hare, R. M., A Critical Study of John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, 23 Phil. Q. 144, 14455 (1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

239 Robin, Attfield, Environmental Philosophy and Prospects 92 (1994)Google Scholar; Rawls, supra note 46, at 20.

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241 Rawls, supra note 46, at 20 n.7; see also Nelson, Goodman, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast 6568 (4th ed. 1983)Google Scholar.

242 Dworkin, supra note 46, at 239–40.

243 Patricia, W. Birnie & Alan, E. Boyle, International Law and the Environment 89 (1992)Google Scholar; Pierre-Marie, Dupuy, Overview of the Existing Customary Legal Regime Regarding International Pollution, in International Law and Pollution 61 (Daniel, B. Magrawed., 1991)Google Scholar; Rüdiger, Wolfrum, Purposes and Principles of International Environmental Law, 1990 Ger. Y. B. Int’l L. 308, 309 Google Scholar.

244 Bodansky, supra note 41, at 110–13 (noting that transboundary pollution seems to be the rule rather than the exception and that customary environmental norms seem to be based on statements rather than regularities in behavior); Oscar, Schachter, The Emergence of International Environmental Law, 44 J. Int’l Aff. 457, 46263 (1991)Google Scholar (noting that there is only fragmentary evidence of state practice and opinio juris to support international environmental principles).

245 E.g., Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, Nov. 13, 1979, TIAS No. 10, 541, 1302 UNTS 217; Co-operation in the Field of Environment Concerning Natural Resources Shared by Two or More States, GA Res. 3129, UN GAOR, 28th Sess., Supp. No. 30, at 48, UN Doc. A/9030 (1973); OECD Council Recommendation C(74)224, Nov. 14, 1974, tit. B(2), reprinted in Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, OECD and the Environment 142 (1986). See generally Bodansky, supra note 41, at 110–12, 114–15.

246 Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, Princ. 21, Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment 3, UN Doc. A/CONF.48/14/Rev.l (1972), reprinted in 11 ILM 1416 (1972). This principle was reiterated (in slightly modified form) in Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, UN Doc. A/CONF.151/5/Rev.l (1992), reprinted in 31 ILM 874 (1992).

247 Brownlie, supra note 6, at 285–86.

248 Schachter, supra note 48, at 11 (citation omitted); see also Schachter, supra note 81, at 733–34.

249 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, supra note 83, Art. 53. 250 Cassese, supra note 83, at 147.

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252 Brownlie, supra note 6, at 514–17; Lauri, Hannikainen, Peremptory Norms (Jus Cogens) in International Law 22642 (1988)Google Scholar.

253 Weil, supra note 94, at 427.

254 Restatement, supra note 6, §102 cmt. k; Thirlway, supra note 83, at 110; Charlesworth, supra note 38, at4; cf. Cassese, supra note 83, at 179.

255 Meron, supra note 2, at 61.

256 E.g., Human Rights Commission, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1988/17, at 23 (1988); see also Schachter, supra note 15, at 338; D’Amato, Response, supra note 31, at 469.

257 Nicaragua, 1986 ICJ Rep. at 98, para. 186; see also Antonio, Cassese, Violence and Law in the Modern Age 3539 (Greenleaves, S.J. K. trans., 1988)Google Scholar; Henkin, supra note 118, at 70; Meron, supra note 2, at 60 (citing Jonathan, I. Charney, The Power of the Executive Branch of the United States Government to Violate Customary International Law, 80 AJIL 913,. 916, (1986)Google Scholar); Charlesworth, supra note 38, at 21.

258 Weil, supra note 94, at 427.

259 Byers, supra note 6, at 183; Jiménez de Aréchaga, supra note 3, at 27.

260 Byers, supra note 6, at 156–62; D’Amato, supra note 6, at 56–66.

261 Hart, supra note 47, at 90.

262 D’Amato, supra note 6, at 97–98.

263 Weisburd, Customary IL, supra note 31, at 30–31.

264 North Sea Continental Shelf (FRG/Den.; FRG/Neth.), 1969 ICJ Rep. 3, 44 (Feb. 20); id. at 230–31 (Lachs, J., dissenting); Akehurst, supra note 7, at 37; Weisburd, supra note 208, at 107.

265 Rawls, supra note 46, at 20.

266 D’Amato, supra note 6, at 97.

267 Byers, supra note 6, at 157–59.

268 Bin Cheng, in International Law, supra note 19, at 249.

269 Anthony, A. D’Amato & Sudhir, K. Chopra, Whales: Their Emerging Right to Life, 85 AJIL. 21, (1991)Google Scholar.

270 Nicaragua, 1986 ICJ Rep. at 109, para. 207.

271 Id.

272 Id. at 98, para. 186.

273 E.g., Charney, supra note 124, at 834; Louis, Henkin, Kosovo and the Law of “Humanitarian Intervention,” 93 AJIL 824, 82425 (1999)Google Scholar.

274 Charney, supra note 124, at 834.

275 Bruno, Simma, NATO, the UN and the Use of Force: Legal Aspects, 10 Eur. J. Int’l L. 1 (1999)Google Scholar, at <http://www.ejil.org/journal/index.html> (visited Oct. 1, 2001).

276 Cassese, supra note 124.

277 The draft resolution condemning NATO’s use of force, UN Doc. S/1999/328, was sponsored by Belarus, India, and the Russian Federation and supported by China, Namibia, and the Russian Federation in the Security Council.

278 For example, German Foreign Minister Kinkel stated, “The decision of NATO [on air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] must not become a precedent.” Deutscher Bundestag, Plenarprotokoll 13/248, at 23, 129 (Oct. 16, 1998), quoted in Simma, supra note 275.

279 Some states focused exclusively on the preliminary issue of jurisdiction; others, including Germany, argued that the intervention represented a justifiable exception to the normal rules. The United States focused on the humanitarian catastrophe, the acute threat to security of neighboring states, the serious violation of humanitarian law, and the resolutions of the Security Council but did not expressly argue for a right to unilateral humanitarian intervention. Oral pleadings (Yugo. v. U.S. etal.), 1999 ICJ Pleadings (Legality of Use of Force), at <http://www.icj-cij.org>.

280 Charney, supra note 124, at 836–37.

281 Gray, C., After the Ceasefire: Iraq, the Security Council and the Use of Force, 1994 Brit.Y. B. Int’l L. 135, 162 Google Scholar; Dino, Kritsiotis, Reappraising Policy Objections to Humanitarian Intervention, 19 Mich. J. Int’l L. 1005, 1014 (1998)Google Scholar.

282 Charney, supra note 124, at 836–39.

283 Cassese, supra note 257, at 35–39; Meron, supra note 2, at 60 (citing Charney, supra note 257); Henkin, supra note 118, at 70; Charlesworth, supra note 38, at 21.

284 SC Res. 1203 (Oct. 24, 1998); see also SC Res. 1199 (Sept. 23, 1998); SC Res. 1160 (Mar. 31, 1998).

285 See supra note 277.

286 This distinction is made by D’Amato, supra note 6, at 61–63, though not with respect to unilateral humanitarian intervention.

287 Brownlie, supra note 6, at 515; Cassese, supra note 83, at 147.

288 Brownlie, supra note 6, at 515; Shaw, supra note 251.

289 Kritsiotis, supra note 281, at 1040–46.

290 Christine, M. Chinkin, Kosovo: A “Good” or “Bad” War? 93 AJIL 841, 847 (1999)Google Scholar.

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292 Henkin, supra note 273, at 824–25.

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294 Cassese, supra note 124; Charney, supra note 124, at 836–39; Wedgwood, supra note 293, at 828.

295 Akehurst, supra note 7, at 53.

296 Koskenniemi, supra note 45, at 2.

297 Meron, supra note 2, at 44–45.

298 Id. at 44; Schachter, supra note 110, at 539; Schachter, supra note 81, at 735.

299 Meron, supra note 2, at 58.

300 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, supra note 83, Art. 53.

301 Supported by Resolution on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, GA Res. 1803, UN GAOR, 17th Sess., Supp. No. 17, at 15, UN Doc. A/5217 (1962). See also Brownlie, supra note 6, at 527–29, 535–38.

302 Supported by Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, GA Res. 3281, UN GAOR, 29th Sess., Supp. No. 30, at 50, UN Doc. A/9030 (1974). See also Brownlie, supra note 6, at 526–27, 538.

303 Meron, supra note 2, at 44.

304 Alasdair, Macintyre, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition 234 (1990)Google Scholar; see also Tasioulas, supra note 42, at 127.

305 Condorelli, supra note 66, at 81; Pellet, supra note 68, at 47.

306 D’Amato, supra note 6, at 89; Henkin, supra note 25, at 39, 42.

307 Chinkin, supra note 221, at 857–58.

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