The Permanent Court of International Justice, 1920-1942

By Manley O. Hudson; Bureau of International Research of Harvard University and Radcliffe College | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 29 INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENTS AND THEIR INTERPRETATION BY THE COURT

§558. International Engagements in the Court's Jurisprudence. In most of the cases which have come before it, either for judgment or for advisory opinion, the Court has been confronted with the necessity of dealing with an international engagement, and the issues drawn have called for the Court's determining whether an engagement existed or what interpretation was to be placed upon the text of an engagement admitted to exist. The law of treaties and of the interpretation of treaties is by far the largest subject in the Court's jurisprudence. Indeed, the value of its jurisprudence for most purposes is limited by the fact that the Court is usually dealing with a specific text, and the texts are seldom the same in two different cases. Yet the Court has appreciated the necessity of its maintaining a consistent attitude in dealing with the texts which have come before it, and the result has been both a clarification of the legal situations to which the texts have related and a significant contribution to the approach to be made in international law to the interpretation and application of conventional arrangements.

§559. Requisites of Engagements.1 The Court has shown a decided preference for the term "international engagement" in its references to the assumption of obligations by States.2 As it is used in Article 18 of the Covenant, this term is broader than the term "treaty," also employed in Article 18, or the term "treaties and conventions" employed in Article 36 of the Statute of the Court. Perhaps it is broader also than the term "agreement" which seems to involve action by more than one State. No general rules have been laid down by the court as governing

____________________
1
See, generally, the Havana Convention on Treaties of February 20, 1928, in 4 Hudson, International Legislation, p. 2378; and the draft Convention on Treaties, prepared by the Research in International Law, in 29 American Journal of International Law (Supp. 1939), pp. 657-1226.
2
The term engagement international is used in Article 36 of the Statute, with "international obligation" as the English equivalent.

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