What Is an International Dispute?

What Is an International Dispute?

According to Merill (2011) the Concept of Disputes in International Law is defined as a disagreements on a fact, law or policy where one party’s claim or assertion is denied or refused by another.

Dispute Settlement

From 1919 to 1928 disputes among members of the League of Nations were to submit the matter to the League Council as of the Covenant of the League of Nations (1919). Hereafter and until the 1945 disputes where to be settled under the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 under which it says that

(…) all disputes or conflicts (…) shall never be sought except by pacific means.

After 1945 disputes are settled under the Charter of the United Nations (UN Charter).

The Obligation

According to article 2(3) of the UN Charter

All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

and furthermore

The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.

as of article 33(1) in the Charter. Following from the to operating clauses is the obligation of the members of the United Nations to resolve international disputes in a peaceful manner.

Means of International Dispute Settlement

If one look at the typology of International dispute settlement there are around three main models for the means. Firstly you can look at the settlement process from its degree of subjectiveness or objectiveness, where in one end you have the means with a high degree of subjectiveness, such as negotiation, good offices and mediation and on the other hand side, where the means are more objective you will use conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement as means in the dispute settlement. Secondly one can divide the means into diplomatic means and legal means. The former can then again be divided into direct and indirect diplomatic means or in dynamic or static diplomatic means, where the division of the legal means will be similar for the two models, namely in ad hoc and permanent legal means. Finally the means can be divided into dynamic and static means, where the division look rather similar to the first model dividing the means after the degree of subjectiveness. (See Collier et al. (1999)) This section is merely to give an overview of the framework for settlement of international disputes. I will come back to the importance of this later on.


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