Journal Article

The <i>Aaland</i> Case and the Sociological Approach to International Law

Oliver Diggelmann

in European Journal of International Law

Published on behalf of The EJIL

Volume 18, issue 1, pages 135-143
Published in print February 2007 | ISSN: 0938-5428
Published online February 2007 | e-ISSN: 1464-3596 | DOI:
The Aaland Case and the Sociological Approach to International Law

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This article examines the report of the Aaland Commission of Jurists of the League of Nations against the background of Max Huber's scholarly writings. The report of the Aaland Commission, of which Huber was a member, is considered a milestone in the history of the self-determination of peoples. The article explores the common ground between the report and Huber's so-called ‘sociological approach’ to international law. It begins by describing Huber's method of tackling doctrinal problems. Huber believed that the decentralized character of international law meant that substantial deviations in the international legal order from its social basis should be avoided. A comparison between the report and his theory reveals that the Commission's method of tackling the Aaland problem is very similar to Huber's approach to doctrinal problems. The article further shows that the concept of the state in the report and in Huber's theory are similar in many respects. Huber's analogies between social and biological organisms seem to have influenced the report. Finally, the Commission's view that the right of self-determination has in the case of the Aaland islanders a legal character is examined vis à vis Huber's concept of international law.

Journal Article.  4185 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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