INTERNATIONAL LAW



The idea of developing international law through the restatement of existing rules is not of recent origin. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, Jeremy Bentham proposed a codification of the whole of international law. Since his time, numerous attempts at codification have been made by private individuals, by learned societies and by governments. Enthusiasm for the "codification movement"—the name sometimes given to such attempts—generally stems from the belief that written international law would remove the uncertainties of customary international law by filling existing gaps in the law, as well as by giving precision to abstract general principles whose practical application is not settled.

MODERN ANTECEDENTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAW COMMISSION The intergovernmental effort to promote the codification and development of international law made an important advance with the resolution of the assembly of the League of Nations of 22 September 1924, envisaging the creation of a standing organ called the Committee of Experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law, which was to be composed so as to present the "main forms of civilization and the principal legal systems of the world." This committee, consisting of 17 experts, was to prepare a list of subjects "the regulation of which by international agreement" was most "desirable and realizable" and thereafter to examine the comments of governments on this list and report on the questions which "were sufficiently ripe," as well as on the procedure to be followed in preparing for conferences for their solutions. This was the first attempt on a worldwide basis to codify and develop whole fields of international law rather than simply regulating individual and specific legal problems.

After certain consultations with governments and the League Council, the League Assembly decided, in 1927, to convene a diplomatic conference to codify three topics out of the five that had been considered to be "sufficiently ripe," namely: (1) nationality;(2) territorial waters; and (3) the responsibility of states for damage done in their territory to the person and property of foreigners. Delegates from 47 governments participated in the Codification Conference which met at The Hague, from 13 March to 12 April 1930. Unfortunately, nationality was the only subject for which an international instrument was agreed on. No further experiment in codification was made by the League of Nations after 1930, but on 25 September 1931, the League Assembly adopted an important resolution on the procedure of codification, the main theme of which was the strengthening of the influence of governments at every stage of the codification process.

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