International Law

Subject: Law
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 14
Word count: 3653
Topics: Human Rights, Justice, Law Enforcement, Social Justice


International law unlike any other law has no particular area or governing body, rather it includes various laws along with customs and rules, which help in governing, influencing, and dealing with respect to the legal interactions among various countries. It also includes different governments, as well as, their businesses along with encompassing the overall rights and responsibilities on the basis of the dealings. The large body, which makes the international law, consists of a gradual collection associated with international customs along with the agreements, accords, treaties, protocols, and memorandum among others. Mostly, due to having different legal systems, in addition to applicable histories of various nations, the regulations that address international laws include both common and civil law. Thus, the application of these two laws often covers all the facets of the national, substantive law, remedies, and procedures.

There are mostly three key legal principles that have been identified within international law, which are not required; however, they are based on courtesy along with respect. These include Principle of Comity, Act of State Doctrine, and the Doctrine of Sovereign immunity. In this context, it can be determined that the principle of comity is a situation, where two or more countries share universal ideas of public policy. On the other hand, the Act of State Doctrine focuses on respecting a fact that a country is sovereign with respect to its territory, in addition to all the domestic actions. Furthermore, it also discourages the courts from making decision on the cases, which interfere with the foreign policies of the nation. On the contrary, the Doctrine of the Sovereign Immunity concentrates on dealing with the actions, which are conducted in the courts of one country against the other country. Additionally, this particular principle also focuses on preventing the sovereign nation from getting tried within the legal court with no proper consent.

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Therefore, in order to be identified as a sovereign nation, it needs to have control over its government along with the population and territory. This includes both national, as well as, the international agreements, which administer international business transactions. This further entails investments, contracts, offshore banking, and tariff among others. The objective of the study is to highlight the issues of public international law and what claims can be made on the stage of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Issues of Public International Law Arising from the Events

In keeping with the facts presented through the case study, various aspects can be observed to have affected the tri-party relationship between Avia, Nepos and Frater over the decade. At the onset, the geographic conditions of these states indicate their inter-dependent nature in order to ensure economic progress and stability. It was thus that the 2003 River Uxor Treaty was signed by the three states to allow each of them sufficient security in utilizing the water source for their individual economic purposes. However, the problems indicate that the treaty may not have had an all-inclusive set of rules that would have otherwise allowed the states to resolve the issue involving Norman, the son of Nepos’ ambassador to Avia. In lieu, the treaty remained dismissed amid the three states owing to the stiffening unrests. The corresponding issues that can hence be identified from the case concerns the provisions of the public international law. In general, the public international law emphasizes the modus operandi of the states in their sovereign nature, maintaining analogy when dealing with other states, mostly involving their international policy structure and their intergovernmental operations that may affect the global relations between two or more countries. Stating precisely, the regimes noted under the provisions of the public law tend to govern the legislative and political behavior of partnering states. In the modern era, the public international law comprises two major dimensions, i.e. ‘the law of nations’ also referred as jus gentium in legal terms and ‘international agreements and conventions’ denoted as jus inter gentes. The first issue identifiable in this context can be related with the idea of the law of nations.

The principles of the law of nations define states as sovereign bodies with their unique form of political and societal structures, functioning through joint efforts to ensure mutual safety and benefits utilizing the combined strengths of the member nations. It therefore works towards defining the guiding norms and the rights of the states aiming to suffice their shared objectives through mutual cooperation. It also explains the obligations shared by the member states. As can be apparently noted, an obligation of the member states is to respect the greater will of the common public, considering that these individual entities build up the societal premise of a nation, which in turn shapes its political and economic profiles. The obligations also ensure that the member states offer due consideration to the interests and gains of the other parties by taking responsibilities to resolve disputes or possible disputes showing signs of certain occurrences. Thus, as was observed in the case involving Nepos and Avia, both the nations can be argued to have acted against their obligations to ensure their responsibilities towards the other member states.

For instance, according to the clause mentioned in Article 6 of the 2003 Treaty signed by the three states, each of them were bound to “take all reasonable steps to ensure that there is no reduction in, or interruption to, the flow of the River Uxor from non-natural causes.” However, the case facts reveal that necessary steps were not taken by Avia or by the other parties in resolving the issue on time. While Avia did plea to its citizens to withdraw from intentionally blocking the flow of River Uxor, military was deployed to reinstate the water flow to Nepos only after it had caused serious damages to the socio-economic structure in both Nepos and Frater. Flaws can also be identified at the end of Nepos, being involved in an illegal insurgency act to help Norman, the adult son of its ambassador to Avia, escape from his apparent obligation. Considering it to be a breach to the trust of Avia on Nepos, the international relationship between Nepos and Avia was seriously damaged. In the similar context, the role played by the Commission, deployed to monitor and protect the Treaty amid the countries also raises certain questions with regard to the responsibilities shared by the body in the entire case. Notably, the Commission was assigned with the responsibility to observe the river health in periodic intervals of three months to ensure that sufficient water is received by each of the three states to survive. Even the states were supposed to report to the Commission when the river flow was obstructed to ensure its moral and responsible involvement in sorting out the conflict amid the three states. The Commission also failed to take necessary steps to reinstate the flow of the River Uxor, which would have otherwise restricted the conflict from arising at such a magnitude.

As a matter of fact, the law of nations is often correlated with the ideation of the law of nature, based on the assumption that the regime applies to the states as entities similar to men and hence, being a part of the nature, they share the similar rights and obligations towards its preservation. It is this particular notion that directs the member states to satisfy their obligations in the preservation of water bodies shared amid their boundaries, as in the case of Avia, Nepos and Freta. In this respect, the notion of territoria arcifinia can be applied to the case issues identified, which determines the right of alluvion of the states sharing the river bed. According to this regime of the law of nations, the right to alluvion offers complete right to each of the state sharing a proportion of the river to claim its waters. However, it restricts the rights of the owners of the river bed from conducting particular works that might turn the course of its flow of water either intentionally or unintentionally. In the case referred, involving the three states of Avia, Nepos and Freta, nonconformity of this regime can also be witnessed, wherein the public in Avia worked to intentionally obstruct the natural flow of water through the River Uxor into Nepos, as a way of their protest against the escape of Norman from his rightful justice.             

Another principle of the law of nations is the ‘international agreements and conventions’, which is also denoted as jus inter gentes. This particular principle is concerned with the laws that govern the actions of the people in respect of the globally recognized set of human rights. It is also referred as the ‘body of treaties’ working in cooperation with the UN Conventions. Concerning the dispute observed in the case referred, the human rights can be observed to have been severely undermined, especially with concern to the damages suffered by the farmers in Nepos and Freta. At the onset, the public involvement in the river management system of Avia contradicted the provisions of international agreements and conventions, jeopardizing life in both Nepos and Freta, to which the Avian government failed to respond promptly. Following the obstructed flow of rive water, the farmers in both these states had to witness huge damages, resulting in their financial problems and economic suffering leading to many suicidal cases. These occurrences apparently indicate  the impacts on human rights obligations shared by Avia with the other member states, through the 2003 Treaty. 

Possible obligations to the conflicts between Avia and Nepos also arise with regard to the principles of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. To be noted in this context, Nepos can argue that by helping Norman in escaping from Avia, it was simply excursing its right to protect “the diplomat and his or her family from any form of arrest or detention”. While on the other hand, Avia may also protest against Nepos, considering the involvement of Norman, as an adult of 18 years of age, being involved in a fatal road accident being the one responsible for drinking and driving and hence, liable for the legislative punishment. In lieu, it was expected that the diplomat should have respected the laws applicable within the host country, i.e. Avia. However, by assisting in the escape of his son, the diplomat has not only disrespected the law of Avia but also gave way to the continuous public protests, jeopardizing political and social stability of the country at large

Apart from these issues, the violation of principles applied to The Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses can also be observed in this case scenario. According to the regime, international watercourses are conserved and restricted from being navigated owing to security concerns, which was apparently breached by Avia. Arguably, in compliance with this regime, it is expected that an inner boundary will be set by the government of Avia to ensure that the water flowing to Freta and Nepos is safe for their citizens’ usage and does not become a possible source of transborder terrorism in accordance with the Article 7 provision. The provision of Article 7 of the convention narrates “the obligation not to cause significant harm” shared by the nations having their rights on the international watercourses flowing through their territories. One mechanism to ensure the same was to place an internal boundary to the water body to ensure that the water flow was not interrupted and that the water flowing through its domestic land was not contaminated for use. However, no such actions were considered by Avia, making it responsible for the violation of Article 7 of the convention. Nonetheless, this convention also has its limitations, fundamentally because it permits the riparian nations to remain engaged in long discussions without a firm connotation of an obligatory period to ensure that a decision or a solution to the issue has been reached. Under such circumstances, the obligations shared by the riparian nations diminish substantially.

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Claims Possible by Each State

The issues identified in this case scenario involve various provisions and obligations, making it complex to be sorted at the diplomatic front. Over the past decades, many cases have been lodged at the ICJ concerning river disputes. With reference to a few of the landmark cases in the past with respect to international river bank disputes, the following sections will elaborate on the charges that each of the three parties, i.e. Avia, Nepos and Freta can bring against each other involving the issues.

Charges Possible by Avia

The possible charges that Avia can lodge in the ICJ in connection to its dispute with Nepos mostly concern the escape of Norman from its country border, irrespective of being convicted by the judiciary to be guilty of committing a fatal accident when he was drinking and driving, leading to the murder of many pedestrians and injuring others. The charges can be based on the provisions of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which were violated by Nepos, on secretly escorting Norman out of the country. However, on being discovered and obstructed by the border police, a mortal conflict began involving the secret forces of Nepos and the border security forces of Avia, resulting in the death of one personnel in the hands of a Nepos’ military. As apparent, the involvement of Nepos’ military officials in the context can be disputed by Avia in ICJ as a violation to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, whereby the diplomat had failed to respect the laws applied within the regimes of the host country. Violations can also be observed with respect to Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, where the good faith of Avia was breached by Nepos. As can further be noted from the case facts, Avia has filed a case against Nepos based on Article 36(2) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. This particular provision dictates that the states involved in international treaties hold the right to take the dispute to the ICJ based on ‘compulsory ipso facto’ against any other state, irrespective of the consent of the third member or others involved in the treaty agreement. The clauses based on which such complaints can be lodged at the ICJ involve (a) matters concerning the treaty interpretation, (b) non-alignment with the international law, (c) possible breach of international obligations as well as (d) the nature of the breach. While Nepos disagreed to the claim, Avia holds the right to file a complaint to the ICJ on these terms.

Nonetheless, the clauses based on which Avia can justify its standpoint indicate  the abuse of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 rules by the diplomat from Nepos, which offers immunity powers to the diplomat serving in the country with a few exemptions and relaxations to be counted for the execution of civilian as well as administrative jurisdictions. In other words, Avia may argue that diplomatic immunity was breached by Nepos on assigning a group of army officers to escort Norman, the son of the diplomat hosted by Avia, across border to his own nation. To be asserted in this context, killing people in road accident under the influence of alcohol holds Norman liable for criminal jurisdictions, concerning human rights issues [Arrest Warrant of 11 April 2000 (Democratic Republic of Congo v. Belgium) [2002] ICJ Rep]. Under such circumstances, Avia can argue with respect to article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which binds it to consider the human rights of its national citizens and those falling under the periphery of its jurisdiction. This rule is commonly applied to the cases of international crimes, such as the involvement of special army officers in helping Norman to escape Avia, depicting the apparent diplomatic connection, amounting to the abuse of diplomatic immunity in the country [Dickinson v Del Solar [1930] 1 K.B. 376]. The state can also stress that even though Nepos had the option to handle the situation more responsibly by diplomatically discussing the occurrence and legally moving Norman to the country for further judicial proceedings, it chose to conduct a secret operation for his escape and hence, violated the rules of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [Empson v Smith [1966] 1 Q.B. 426].  

Charges Possible by Nepos

At the very onset, it is the water dispute that affected Nepos to the extreme, leading to the death of many of its farmers and affecting its economic system at large. While Nepos has rejected charges based on 36(2) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, it can file relevant charges against Avia concerning the subject of the conflict. For instance, sharing the rights of member states as per the UN Watercourses Convention, Nepos can lodge a complaint against Avia in ICJ on the grounds of violations of Article 7. This particular provision applies to nations sharing river water at their borders, emphasizing the obligations of each of the involved states to restrain from causing harm to the others sharing the same water source. However, irrespective of the treaty agreement to monitor and scrutinize the rive conditions in every three months interval, the commission held responsible for the maintenance failed to act, responding only after 6 months when Avia had a secret task force assigned to clear the river to ensure sufficient water flow to the two other nations. This depicts a serious flaw in the obligations performed by Avia and the commission in good faith to protect the interests of Nepos by sharing the water flow of River Uxor. Hence, the complaint by Nepos can also share the grounds of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in ICJ against Avia.   

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Charges Possible by Freta

The stakes shared by Freta in this dispute is indirect but equally damaging, as the obstructed flow of the River Uxor had also affected the economic health of the farmers in the country. However, Freta holds the right to lodge a complaint against both Avia and Nepos for acting irresponsibly, against the international human rights at large. It is thus that based on 36(2) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, Freta can consider making claims at the ICJ against these two nations. In addition, it may also seek for enquiries into the role played by the Commission set by the 2003 Treaty to protect the rights of each of the three states on the water source, i.e. River Uxor. Evidences suggest that the Commission had been obsolete in performing its obligations to secure international waters, which had increased the damages for Freta even though it did not have any direct involvement in the dispute of Nepos and Avia. Hence, the complaint by Freta will be more relevant if lodged against the Commission, rather than against either of the two countries or both.     

Conclusions and Recommendations 


The formation of a tri-party relationship between Avia, Nepos and Frater and the inter-dependent geographic conditions of these three nations generated the issue of public international law. These geographic conditions prevalent within the three nations certainly ensure greater level of monetary constancy and progress. The issue can be related to the clause portrayed in Article 6 of the 2003 Treaty, which was signed by the three nations to ensure that there does not lay any reduction or interruption to the flow of the River Uxor from any non-natural cause. Nonetheless, as displayed in the case facts, the nation i.e. Avia did not take any necessary steps to resolve the issue, which in turn, caused serious socio-economic damages to the other two nations. Moreover, another issue concerning the involvement of Nepos in an illegal insurgency activity was witnessed, which damaged the global association persisting between Nepos and Avia at large. Various notions of public international law that entailed territoria arcifinia and jus inter gentes were raised that administer the activities performed by the individuals to preserve human rights. 

With regard to the given case scenario, another issue cropped up, which was related to the infringement in following the principles of The Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. The identified issues involve distinct sorts of provisions as well as obligations that possibly bring charges on each of the three involved nations. For instance, Avia can possibly charge Nepos for escaping Norman, despite being found guilty to an illegitimate insurgency act. Breach of the provisions relating to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 can lay the foundation of this charge over Nepos by Avia. These charges eventually relate to the river bank dispute that was faced by the three nations, which certainly pose threats to their long-term sustainability and economic progress. Thus, attempts need to be made to resolve this dispute and thereby ensure greater stability in the long run. 

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The issues of public international law that erupted from the river bank dispute need to be resolved not only to control the outraged situation prevailed in Avia, Nepos and Frater, but also to ensure sustainability of these three nations for a longer time. Since these three nations are the members of the United Nations, the river bank dispute could be settled through the participation of the International Court of Justice by offering consultative views on the legal questions arise from the argument. Apart from the International Court of Justice, a broad assortment of international courts, ad hoc along with international tribunals and UN-assisted hearings also have an indispensable role to play in settling the river bank dispute. Enforcement mechanisms, workable supervising stipulations and particular water allocation prerequisites have the ability to resolve the dispute by addressing discrepancies witnessed in water flow and transforming requisites. Focus on one of the global instruments i.e. the 1997 United Nations Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses on maintaining communal water resources cannot also be ignored in settling the river bank dispute faced by the three nations.           

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