Not final authority: principles of international legal policy of State regarding international justice

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Author: Olga Magomedova

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2022-4-112-136

Keywords: international legal policy; international justice; international courts; optional clauses; recognition of jurisdiction; preliminary objections; doctrine of political question; enforcement of judgment


Although States’ conduct in international court proceedings may vary, some theories suggest there is a common rational basis behind these different practices. The article suggests considering the international legal policy of a State as this assumed rational basis. The concept of the international legal policy of a State considers international law to be the result of active coordination of States’ sovereign wills. According to this concept, States participate in the development of international law strategically, creating special policies in relation to international law. The conduct of these policies is subject to the strict principles of the process for legitimizing the positions asserted by a State in international law. By pursuing its international legal policy, a State influences the content of international law by initiating the adoption of new norms, agreeing to or rejecting proposals of other States, and offering its own interpretation of international legal norms and law enforcement practice. In reliance on the identified general patterns of the international legal policy of a State, the article develops the idea of international legal policy in relation to international justice. The problem with this policy is that the submission of an international dispute to international judges limits the active role of the State on the relevant issue. Without wishing to receive a negative opinion from international judges about the outcome of their efforts to uphold their legal position, States are wary of judicial settlement of their international disputes. A State can use legal instruments to limit involvement of independent, qualified lawyers and international adjudicators in dispute settlement. The decisive factor in a State’s attitude to international justice in a particular case is how international litigation and its outcome might affect the State’s ability to assert its legal policies in international law. Thus, various decisions and actions of States in relation to international justice are subject to the specific logic of their international legal policies. Therefore the actual problems of international justice, such as incidents of “backlash” against international courts, should not be seen as autonomous, but as part of a system of factors, including the principles of a State’s international legal policy.

About the author: Olga Magomedova – Ph.D. Student, Department of International Law, Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (MGIMO University); Research Associate, Institute of International Economics and Finance, Russian Academy of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Magomedova O. (2022) Ne poslednyaya instantsiya: zakonomernosti mezhdunarodno-pravovoy politiki gosudarstv v otnoshenii mezhdunarodnogo pravosudiya [Not final authority: principles of international legal policy of State regarding international justice]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 112–136. (In Russian).


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