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International Law, Sovereignty and Specially Affected States

Adil Navaid

The international order has changed drastically since the ambitious project of the UN, and what it has entailed since, began in 1945. With more States than perhaps the current model was built for, it is becoming ever more difficult to reconcile the existing sources of international law with the needs of the international community. Specifically, the source of customary international law has seemed fragmented for a while, more so since the ‘one-off’ mention of “specially affected States” in the North Sea Continental Shelf case, at the ICJ. This piece aims to examine the following: to what extent does the idea of specially affected States introduced by the ICJ in the North Sea case contravene the fundamental international law principle of sovereign equality? Could this dictum by the ICJ create a loophole allowing certain more powerful States to impose their desires on less powerful States?

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