The Inextricable Connection between Historical Consciousness and International Law: New Imperialism, the International Court of Justice and its Interpretation of the Inter-Temporal Rule
EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, 10th Anniversary Conference, Vienna, 4-6 September 2014, Conference Paper No. 2/2014
15 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2014
Date Written: September 4, 2014
European colonial powers impaired the sovereignty of the native ruler, breached their obligations under the treaties they concluded with native polities and violated customary international law. On the basis of customary international law, European States were bound to observe their obligations towards and the rights of African nations. More concretely, European States had a legal duty to observe the obligations they consented to in cession and protectorate treaties with African rulers. But they failed to do so. The excessive interpretation and employment of sovereign rights on the side of the European colonial powers after the conclusion of cession and protectorate treaties disrespected sovereignty and, subsequently, property of the original population of Africa. African rights of dominium had to make way for European rights of imperium. The article addresses the origins of the problematic of establishing responsibility and available remedies for historical wrongs comprised in the doctrine of inter-temporal law. It questions what the inter-temporal rule involves in the context of international law and how it is and should be applied with regard to the illegal nature of Africa's colonization. As will be shown, the doctrine of inter-temporal law underlines the relation between international law and a proper understanding and awareness of the history of international law in general and of legal disputes in particular.
Keywords: Imperialism; inter-temporal rule; sovereignty; treaty interpretation; International Court of Justice
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