International Courts of Appeal

International Courts of Appeal

International Courts of Appeal a Necessity

Lassa Oppenheim, in the book entitled The Future of International Law, about International Courts of Appeal a Necessity, wrote in 1921: 62. Obviously it will not be possible in the long run to stop at a single international court; the erection over the court of first instance of an international court of appeal is also a necessity. The proposed Prize Court will indeed be itself a court of appeal because it cannot be approached until one or two national courts have spoken. But the proposed International Court of Justice would be a court of first instance. Now there are no infallible first-instance decisions. Even courts are fallible and make mistakes. If this is universally recognized for municipal administration of justice, it must be recognized for international administration of justice, all the more as public and not private interests are then in issue. If states are to feel bound to rely on their right rather than on their might, and to submit it to a judicial decision, it must be possible to carry an appeal against a decision of the International Court of Justice to a higher tribunal. Many advocates of arbitration will not hear of an appeal. In this they may be right as regards a real arbitral decision given ex aequo et bono, but their arguments lose all force before the nakedly jural decision of a real court. The difficulties which beset the erection of an international court and the appointment of its members may lead to the renunciation of the immediate establishment of an international court of appeal. But when once the International Court is in active working, the demand for a court of appeal will be raised and it will not be silenced until it has been satisfied. It would be premature to make proposals now as to the manner in which such a court of appeal ought to be composed, and as to the way in which it could be brought into existence. It is enough to have pointed to the need for it. Directly this need makes itself felt, ways and means will be found for supplying it.