Recent Developments of International Law Concerning International Organizations and Individuals


There are now many international governmental organizations. Such organizations differ in scope, structure and functions, which are created by international agreements and are governed by the law pertaining to such agreements. Non-governmental organizations which are known as NGO'S such as Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross play an important role on the international plane, especially in the field of human rights. Bu t these organizations do not possess international legal personality , and their domestic legal personality, and rights are governed by the municipal law of the headquarters States, with the exception of INTELSAT , which does not accept the law of the United States as its residual law. The legal disputes of INTELSAT are to be resolved by an arbitration tribunal on the basis of the INTELSAT Agreement itself and generally accepted principles of law. The attribution of international legal personality to international governmental organizations involves the power to perform legal acts on the international plane rather than within the municipal law of States. In some cases, the constituent instrument of the organization indicates whether the organization has the international legal personality. But in some other cases, it may be necessary to infer such international legal personality from the powers granted to the organization in the constituent instrument.

The ICJ in its advisory opinion concerning the Reparations Case has held that the U.N. has international legal personality, and has the capacity to bring international claims against members and non­members. The World Court has arrived at this conclusion through the interpretation of the Charter in the light of the purposes and functions of the U. N. The constituent instrument of each international organization determines the powers and functions of the organization and also identifies the organs responsible for exercising the powers conferred on the organization. The ICJ in its advisory opinion concerning Certain Expenses of the United Nations has held that acts which are performed in violation of the divisions of functions among the several organs, which the Charter prescribes are irregular as a matter of the internal structure, but this would not necessarily mean that they were not acts of the organization . The World Court stated that both national and international law contemplate cases in which the body corporate or politic may be bound, as to third parties by an ultra vires act of an agent. International organizations have the power to conclude international agreements with States regardless of whether or not such power is explicitly provided for in the constituent instruments of such organizations. Such power may be established by the interpretation of the document as a w hole or by reference to implied powers of international organizations.

International organizations enjoy such privileges and immunities in the territories of the Member States as are necessary for performing their functions and achieving the purposes for which they were created. The representatives of States accredited to international organizations likewise, enjoy such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the independent exercise of their functions in connection with such organizations. Such privileges and immunities are governed by the Vienna Convention on the Representation of States in their Relations with International Organizations of a Universal Character, which were modeled on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

With respect to the U.N. and its specialized agencies, they enjoy absolute immunity from the legal process of States Members in respect of internal operations, which include their relations with their employees. Bu t it is not clear under international law whether other international organizations enjoy absolute or restricted immunity, and probably they are accorded only restricted immunity under the law of the United States. International organizations are liable for breaching their contractual obligations with States and individuals. The States Members of international organizations, as a general rule are not bound to third parties by obligations undertaken by international organizations in their own name. The liability of the States Members of international organizations should be determined by reference to the construction of the constituent instruments of the organizations in their factual context and not by reference to whether there is or is not an express exclusion of liability in such instruments as the Court of Arbitration has held in the Case of Westland. The dictum established in the Westland Case has been rejected in the Case of the International Tin Council. The right of international organizations to appear before international tribunal sin contentious cases depends upon the law that regulates these tribunals and the special agreements establishing them. Accord ingot Article 34 of its Statute, the ICJ can only hear contentious cases between States. But international organizations alone if so authorized can seek advisory opinions from the World Court. In this respect, it is important to note that international organizations have utilized advisory opinions to overcome the problem of Jack of standing in contentious cases before the World Court. It is equally important, however, to bear in mind that an international organization on may be a contentious party before any international tribunal , which is not subject to a provision similar to Article 34 of the Statute of the ICJ. Under the Convention of the Law of the Sea of 1982, the Sea-bed Dispute Chamber is empowered to exercise Jurisdiction in disputes between a State and the authority or between the authority and State enterprises and natural or juridical persons.

The efforts of the world community to protect human rights and encourage foreign investments, have led to the clothing of individuals with international legal personality, with the procedural capacity to bring claims against States on the international plane. Under the various human rights conventions, individuals have the right to petition International tribunals and other international bodies such as the Human Rights Committee, to the effect that they were victims of a violation of the rights set forth in such conventions. The International Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of other States has opened up the possibility for private individuals to seek international arbitration. Moreover, the Iran - U.S. Claims Tribunal has given individuals direct access for the settlement of their claims. According to the Claims Settlement Declaration of 1981, individual’s arc responsible for the presentation of their cases and the conduct of each case falls entirely upon the claimant himself with respect to large claims. Since individuals enjoy the rights and benefits of international law, they are subject to its duties. They are liable for the grave breaches of international law, and the norms of war such as the Geneva Conventions, and crimes against humanity, and peace and security of mankind as demonstrated by the establishment of the War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Accordingly, it is possible to conclude that individuals have become subjects of international law, and they enjoy some of the rights that international law confers on States such as the procedural capacity before international tribunals. But individuals are bound by the obligations that international law imposes on the international plane.

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