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The International Court of Justice and the Judicial Function$
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Gleider I Hernández

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646630

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646630.001.0001

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A Reluctant Guardian

A Reluctant Guardian

The Court and the Concept of ‘International Community’

(p.194) VII A Reluctant Guardian
The International Court of Justice and the Judicial Function

Gleider I Hernández

Oxford University Press

The concept of ‘international community’, nebulously defined, has the potential to generate specific and far-reaching legal effects. This Chapter examines whether the understanding of the judicial function of the International Court of Justice requires a full understanding of the Court's conception of the community in which it is situated. First the Court's pronouncements are analysed to illuminate its minimalist, cautious definition of the concept. Special attention is paid to the Court's interpretation and application of rules of jus cogens and obligations erga omnes, two concepts treated with reticence. The Court's understanding of the concept remains profoundly ambivalent and at the rearguard of current international legal debate, provoking reflections as to the continued relevance of the concept beyond the work of the Court. Although it might remain a purely juridical fiction bereft of legal effect, legal scholarship can still use the concept to channel debate on the development of international law.

Keywords:   international community, judicial function, peremptory norms, obligations erga omnes, development of international law

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