Some Observations on the Inter-Temporal Rule in International Law

Rosalyn Higgins Dbe Qc

in Themes and Theories

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780198262350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682322 | DOI:
Some Observations on the Inter-Temporal Rule in International Law

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Few arbitral dicta have been more widely cited, or have come to assume a more important place in international law, than the dictum of Judge Max Huber in the Island of Palmas case. The question Huber was addressing was whether mere discovery had allowed Spain to acquire and retain sovereign title. There are good reasons for thinking that treaties that guarantee human rights — whether expressly or as an incident of their subject matter — fall into a special category so far as inter-temporal rule is concerned. Huber’s dictum in the Island of Palmas case referred to the need for a ‘juridical fact’ to be ‘appreciated’ in the light of the law contemporary with it. How does this bear, if at all, upon the need to interpret treaties and pronounce upon their validity? What is the relationship between ‘appreciation’, ‘interpretation’, and ‘validation’? The International Court of Justice certainly has indicated that the doctrine of international law does apply to treaties.

Keywords: Max Huber; Spain; sovereign title; international law; International Court of Justice; human rights; treaties; inter-temporal rule; juridical fact; appreciation

Chapter.  3843 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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