State Consent Under International Law

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 811 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Words: 811|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

This essay would be examining state consent under international law. Furthermore, it would also be examining how international law is grounded on the actual consent of state in the establishment of obligations, talking about the basic issues of consent under international law. Lastly, the essay would also examine certain aspects which could cancel the assertion that without consent international law cannot bind a state.

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Consent in its regular definition can be defined as when a party agrees to a certain situation and supports it. Consent however appears not be a new concept in international law and the principle has appeared to have developed over the years under international law. This draws us to the concept state consent. State consent, is said to be the foundation which international law is built on[1], according to (Lister, 2011) “one of the major features of international law, so far as it has been traditionally being recognised, is its consensual nature. On a large scale, international law, unlike domestic law needs the consent of those states which they govern”[2]. State consent it is defined or seen as the method by which states identify and accept the rules which they deem binding upon themselves and other states[3]. Although the process of consent has its flaws in international law, it is much needed as it plays an important role in international law. The process of consent was established under the doctrine of state sovereignty.

This was clearly examined in the case of SS Lotus (France v Turkey) where it was stated that rules which are binds a state emanate from their own free will as expressed under conventions, it was further stated that the restriction of a state’s independence cannot be presumed[4]. In other words, a state has the right to accept or not rules which would govern their relationship with each other as any rule which is made without the consent of the state is a violation of state sovereignty. Under international law, treaties are seen as its primary sources, this is seen under article 38(1)(a) of the statute of the international Court of Justice which provides that the courts in accordance with international law should apply international conventions, whether general or particular establishing rules recognised expressly by states[5]. In other words, treaties create a binding obligation on states, nevertheless, the state must still give consent in order to be bound by the treaty.

The term treaty is examined under the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties (1969) which it defines a treaty in article 2(2) as an international agreement or acceptance concluded between states in written form and governed by international law[6]. Furthermore, the words “agreement or acceptance” under the Vienna Convention on law of Treaties (VCLT) in its definition of a treaty shows that a treaty can fully function only if the state has consented to it. According to (Shearer, 1995) newly made treaties under international law creates obligations binding under state parties[7], however, only the states that have consented to such treaty can be bound by the rules which have been made under that treaty[8]. It can be said that where there is lack of consent a state may not be bound by a treat, this is seen under Article 47 of the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties (1969) it was provided that If the authority of a representative to express the consent of a State to be bound by a certain treaty has been made subject to a specific restriction the states failure to observe such treaty would not be ruled as invalid[9], certain situations could be where a state has been induced to comply with a treaty which was induced fraudulently by another negotiating state[10], where the state has been procured to accept a treaty with use of force or by threat[11] and also a state may invoke an error in a treaty as invalidating its consent to be bound by a treaty[12]. Furthermore, where a state has agreed to be bound by a treaty but the are against certain provisions under that treaty, it would not be bound by such provision, the exemption to such provisions was established under article 2(d) of the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties (1969) which is known as a reservation meaning a unilateral statement made by a state which excludes or modifies the legal effect of certain provisions in the treaty in their application to that state[13]

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However, the reservation becomes invalid if it is not related to the purpose of the treaty. Furthermore, consent is also needed by the [1] [2] Matthew Lister, The Legitimating Role of Consent in International Law [3] Bodansky & S. Watson, State Consent and the Sources of International Obligation, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law) [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] Ademola Abass, Complete International Law: Text, Cases, and Materials [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

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State Consent Under International Law. (2018, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from
“State Consent Under International Law.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2018,
State Consent Under International Law. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2024].
State Consent Under International Law [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 24 [cited 2024 May 22]. Available from:
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