Identifying and Implementing Erga Omnes Obligations: The Role of Procedure

Esil Conference 2017 > Theme > Identifying and Implementing Erga Omnes Obligations: The Role of Procedure

More than 45 years after the ICJ’s judgment in the Barcelona Traction case, the discussions on the existence and consequences of erga omnes obligations continue to be as relevant as ever. Recent cases like the one on non-proliferation obligations brought before the ICJ by the Marshall Islands highlight the need to revisit the significance of erga omnes obligations and their role in the pursuit and protection of International Law’s fundamental values. While the ILC has suggested that in case of a breach of an erga omnes obligation all states and (competent) international organizations would be entitled to invoke the responsibility of the author of the breach, the procedural articulations of such claims remain restricted to treaty contexts, with little and hardly uniform practice outside of it. International courts and tribunals have shed some light on the procedural aspects surrounding this type of international obligations, but much remains underexplored and in need of clarification.

The purpose of this forum will be to examine the role of procedure in identifying and implementing erga omnes obligations. More specifically, the forum will focus on whether the existing procedures foster or hinder the emergence and development of erga omnes obligations. The different approaches of judicial and political organs and procedures in the identification and implementation of erga omnes obligations, and their relative strengths and weaknesses, will play a central role in the panel’s discussions. The forum will also analyse how the enforcement of erga omnes obligations, either centralized or de-centralized, impact upon the pursuit and protection of international law’s fundamental values.



Giorgio Gaja, International Court of Justice


Andrea Bianchi, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Lorenzo Gradoni, Max Planck Institute Luxembourg

Andrea Hamann, University of Strasbourg



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