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Glossary

GLOSSARY OF TERMS
A
accession: the acceptance of a treaty by one or more states after it has
entered into force.
acta gestionis: state involvement in commerce thus calling for restrictive
immunity, which allows state commerce to be a party in the court cases of
another state.
acta imperii: traditional acts of state concerning security and diplomacy,
matters very unlikely to be involved in the court cases of another state.
Act of State doctrine: respecting state immunity for the acts of a government
performed on its own territory, even when another stateʼs citizens are
involved.
actors: individuals and various groups of individuals, including entire states,
which can make behavioral choices to obey or disobey international law.
adjudication: third party judicial settlement of disputes that are legally
binding.
advisory opinion: a decision, as by the ICJ, stating a legal opinion on an
issue but without litigants actually bringing a contentious case before the
court. It is theoretically a moot action by a court but may, nonetheless, set
norms.
agrément: a formal agreement by a host state to accredit a new ambassador.
alien: a non-citizen located on the territory of a state.
ambassador: the highest rank of diplomatic agent.
amendment: a formal change in an article or two of a treaty or it could refer to
a general revision of the treaty.
anarchy: the absence of government in a particular social system.
arbitration: a binding third party adjudication that is ad hoc or for a one-time use.
archipelago states: states made up of several or more islands recognized as
a geographical entity.
arms control: limitations or caps on the numbers of one or more kinds of
weapons.
aut judicare aut dedere: either try or extradite to a country that will try an
individual wanted for a crime involving universal jurisdiction.
B
baseline: the land–water demarcation, determined at low tide, serving as the
starting point for several seaward jurisdictions of coastal states.
belligerent recognition: a provisional recognition by other states of an
insurgent group with some prospects for success in their revolutionary war.
bellum Romanum: all-out war without restraint as Romans practiced against
groups they considered to be barbarians.
biodiversity: the genetic variability of all living organisms, including both plant
and animal life.
biosphere: the interdependent layers of soil, ocean, climate, and air that
envelope earth and sustain life.
C
Calvo Clause: aliens are expected to rely on local remedies over a grievance
and not turn to the diplomatic services of their home country.
Calvo Doctrine: the effects of a revolution may be beyond a stateʼs control,
and so the response under state responsibility should not have to be greater
for aliens than it is toward a stateʼs own citizens
capitalism: an economic system of private ownership of property and
commerce regulated by market forces of supply and demand.
carrying capacity: the ability of an ecosystem to support the needs of the
species inhabiting it and to remain healthy.
chargé dʼaffaires: a diplomat that runs the day to day affairs of an embassy
and can stand-in for an ambassador at state functions.
civil war: a conflict involving a rebellious force in charge of a significant
portion of a stateʼs territory and people.
codification process: converting customary law into treaty law but, broadly
speaking, can also be a study, as by the ILC, to determine what the law is in a
given area.
coercive diplomacy: a skilled mix of diplomacy and force aimed persuading
a state to halt further action, such as aggression.
collective recognition: a group of states, as in an IGO, extending diplomatic
recognition to one or more states.
collective security: a power management system calling for preponderant
force by a gathering of states to stop an aggressor, as provided for in the UN
Charter.
comity: mainly courtesies exercised among states and their diplomats to
facilitate the handling of serious issues.
commission: the credentials of a consul issued by his or her government.
conciliation: a third party negotiating technique involving an ascertainment of
the facts to help parties in dispute, but usually done by a commission or group
of experts.
consul: a diplomatic agent with lower immunity than an ambassador who
works with fellow citizensʼ problems and commercial matters.
consulate: the offices of a consul which enjoy lesser immunities than that of
an embassy.
contiguous zone: this strip of coastal waters extends 24 miles from the
baseline and overlaps the territorial band of water. Its purpose is to allow law
enforcement against smuggling and other violations against a state.
continental shelf: a geographical prolongation from a stateʼs territory across
the seabed providing the state with a 200-mile jurisdiction under the sea and
in some special geographical cases 350 miles. Highly valued for natural
resources such as oil and natural gas.
crimes against humanity: widespread, inhumane acts against civilian
populations in peace or war.
crimes against peace: an international crime involving planning and waging
war of aggression or in violation of treaties.
cultural relativism: the view that regions and countries have their own
unique cultures and that a universal conception of human rights may not be a
good fit for all societies.
customary law: rules that emerge from the experience of states over time,
and a primary source of international law along with treaties.
D
dean: the ambassador with the longest tenure in a capital and who
traditionally handles disputes between ambassadors or embassies.
delict: a wrong or harm done to aliens by a host stateʼs agents or its citizens.
demonstration: a display of military force to indicate that a state is serious
about its rights being respected.
dependency theory: a view that the South is bound to the North in a
neocolonial relationship of exploitation.
deportation: a legal process for forcing an alien, even if naturalized as a
citizen, usually for covering up an illegal past. Rule of law countries usually
provide a hearing before a judge.
desertification: the process of degrading arid and semi-arid areas into
useless deserts.
diplomacy: a process of communication and negotiation among states and
IGOs to maximize cooperation and minimize conflict.
diplomatic bag: (or pouch) a device for carrying documents or equipment
and given immunity.
diplomatic corps: the ambassadors of various countries located in a capital
city and sharing a sense of community within their group.
diplomatic courier: a diplomatic agent that carries important documents from
a home state to an embassy or consulate and may return with other
documents.
disarmament: the complete or partial elimination of weapons.
dualism: the view that international law and municipal law are two separate
legal domains which can operate independently of each other.
dual nationality: a person with two citizenships, a status more states are
reluctantly accepting.
due diligence: a state responsibility to take care and avoid wronging another
state or its citizens.
E
ecocide: the destruction of the natural environment as a result of human
activity.
economic integration: the merger of two or more national economies in
some form and degree.
ecosystem: the interaction of a species, animal or plant, with its environment,
but with the question of whether it is a healthy, sustainable relationship.
embassy: the facilities of a permanent diplomatic mission enjoying
substantial immunity.
entry into force: a prescribed number of ratifications, usually mentioned in a
treaty, to activate the treaty as law.
environment: the physical features of the planet Earth and their interaction.
espousal doctrine: a requirement that states speak for individuals and
corporations in international matters but is no longer strictly followed.
ethnic group: a collective of people sharing an enduring and special sense of
identity, which can include language, religion, and racial characteristics,
among others.
exclusive economic zone: a jurisdiction extending to 200 miles of sea from
the baseline of a state for controlling natural resources such as fisheries.
exequatur: the certificate of acceptance by a host state extended to another
stateʼs consul.
ex post facto: after the fact, a charge created and leveled against a party
after the so-called crime has been committed, thus violating a widely
recognized principle of justice.
expropriation: the seizure of foreign-held property and its transfer to control
of the seizing state. Proper compensation is at issue.
expulsion: immediate removal of an alien or a group of aliens for security or
health reasons, a practice sometimes abused and turned into a human rights
issue.
extradition: a treaty-provided process of requesting a wanted person by one
state when that person is located in another state.
extraterritorial jurisdiction: exerting jurisdiction by a state beyond its
borders.
F
flags of convenience: ships fly the flag of the state where they are
registered. Some states provide their flags for a fee but provide little actual
regulation allowing greater profits for ship-owners.
framework treaty: a basic treaty for which add-ons known as optional
protocols can be used to elaborate and extend the terms of a treaty at a later
time.
free trade: the removal of border restrictions on goods and services such as
tariffs and quotas.
forum non conveniens: refers to the inappropriateness of a court for a case
at hand, usually as a jurisdictional issue.
functional immunity: usually associated with IGOs, it provides sufficient
immunity for an organization to perform its tasks but no more.
G
Gaia Hypothesis: Earth is viewed as a single biosphere, a living super
organism.
genocide: the mass killing of people because of their group characteristics
such as race or religion.
geostationary satellites: satellites placed about 22,000 miles above Earth in
an orbit that allows the satellite to travel in a synchronized way with the
planet.
global civil society: private persons and organizations which link up across
borders, usually through non-government organizations, to pursue worthy
causes in cooperation with IGOs and states.
global governance: a loose array of states, IGOs, and NGOs, exercising a
weak supranational authority to influence global policy and law.
globalization: a combination of several forces, especially economic, drawing
the world together into a pattern of interdependence.
good offices: a minimal third party role to help disputing parties by passing
information between them.
H
hegemon: the worldʼs most powerful state.
high seas: open waters of the oceans and seas of the world available to all
for navigation, over flight, and fishing.
hors de combat: set aside from combat such as civilians and POWs and
should be protected from the harms of war.
human rights: the freedoms and protections people should enjoy as
individuals and groups simply because they are human.
humani generi hostis: the enemy of all humankind and involves universal
jurisdiction as in the case of pirates and war criminals.
I
imputable: the harm done to an alien may be attributable to the host state.
incorporation: the process of applying the rules of international law within
national jurisdictions, or municipal systems.
indigenous peoples: descendents of the original inhabitants of a country or
region, such as Native Americans in the United States or Aborigines in
Australia.
innocent passage: the continuous and expeditious voyage of a foreign ship
through the territorial waters of another state on the condition that there are no
harmful effects to that state.
inquiry: a third party communication link in a dispute that involves
ascertaining the facts to help clarify the dispute. The term can also be spelled
“enquiry.”
insurgents: groups of citizens waging war against their central government
and exercising control over part of a stateʼs territory and population.
intellectual property: the creations of the mind such as artistic endeavors or
inventions which can generate wealth.
internal waters: states have complete sovereignty over waters on the
landward side of their baseline including lakes, rivers, ports, bays, and the
like.
international law: a collection of rules and norms, covering a wide scope of
activities and interests, that states and other actors are obliged to obey and
commonly do so.
internment: the temporary detention of aliens living on a stateʼs territory who
are citizens of an enemy state.
intervention: the dictatorial interference by one state in another stateʼs affairs
ranging from its leadership choices to landing troops on its territory.
invalidity: conditions under which a treaty no longer applies for one or more
states.
J
jurisdiction: a domain for making rules and enforcing them for either places
or the activities of persons.
jus cogens: firm law that is based on a peremptory norm that all states are
expected to obey.
jus gentium: law of the nations, first used by the Romans to deal with
peoples on the periphery of their empire and then the term was used by the
early state system of Europe.
jus sanguinis: law of the blood, used as a citizenship principle meaning that
a person takes the citizenship of a parent regardless of where that person
was born.
jus soli: law of the soil, used as a citizenship principle by some states
meaning that anyone born on the territory of such a state can take that
citizenship.
just war: a war fought for a strong moral cause and thus justified to be
waged.
L
legal personality: the degree of rights and duties assigned to an actor
whether a state, IGO, or an individual.
letter of credence: an ambassadorʼs credentials presented to the head of
state of the host country.
letters rogatory: sworn statements that are made before judicial authorities
in one country to be used as evidence in the courts of another state.
lex ferenda: law in the process of being developed or the law that should
exist.
lex lata: law as it presently exists.
liberals: leaders and scholars who believe international law helps structure
international life in useful ways, including progressive results for humankind.
M
male captus bene detentus: bad capture is good detention. the courts of
some countries will gladly try a person even if that person has been abducted
from another state.
mare clausum: a closed sea, a jurisdictional claim involving the control of a
great portion of the high seas by one state. Never valid after the seventeenth
century, if it ever was.
mare liberum: a free or open sea as opposed to a closed sea controlled by
one state.
Marxism: Karl Marx called for the revolutionary destruction of the capitalist
system because it exploited workers to provide wealth for a few factory
owners.
material breach: the clear violation of part of a treaty by a party or the
unilateral rejection of the entire treaty.
meditation: a third party negotiating technique in which terms of settlement
are suggested to the disputants.
mercantilism: an economic philosophy of the sixteenth through the
eighteenth centuries that called for maximizing exports and minimizing
imports, thus creating a national profit that kings could spend on military
prowess.
mercenary: an economically motivated volunteer fighting for a government.
The legality of this combatant is very much in question.
minister: the rank of diplomatic agent below an ambassador and almost
entirely in disuse.
monism: the view that international and national legal systems share the
same legal order in a reasonably compatible arrangement.
moot issues: involves theoretical points of law without a contentious case at
hand.
multinational corporations: a special case of the NGO actor, it is a business
enterprise operating in several or more countries. Sometimes written as
transnational corporations.
municipal law: in international relations, this term refers to law within the
domestic context of states.
N
National Liberation Movement: a special case of insurgency expressing
self-determination, or self-rule, involving freedom from colonial rule, a racist
regime, or foreign occupation.
nationality: the legal identification of an individual person with a particular
state, which provides the legal protection of that state and accords certain
rights and duties.
naturalization: the legal process of changing one nationality for another.
natural law: originating in ancient greece and based on the notation that laws
of divine origin govern human affairs similar to laws of nature in the physical
world.
negotiation: a bargaining process over issues between agents of states,
often resulting in a compromise, as when treaties are written broadly to cover
the positions of several states.
non-refoulement: not to be returned, a principle calling on governments to
avoid returning refugees to a place where their lives or freedoms would be
threatened.
norms: informal, customary expectations about appropriate behavior by
actors.
nullen crime sine lege: no crime without law; as a principle, a law violated
must be known and in place before a party is charged with this crime.
O
objects: an actor receiving the effects of international law but not necessarily
enjoying a degree of legal personality.
opinio juris sive necessitates: a known customary law for which
compliance is expected. Often shortened to opinio juris.
order: an enduring pattern of values and behaviors which structure the
relationships of actors over time, for decades and even centuries.
P
pacta sunt servanda: one of the most fundamental principles of international
law meaning that treaties must be obeyed.
passports: an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the
identity and nationality of the bearer.
peacekeeping: a neutral military force placed between belligerent parties
following a ceasefire, as practiced by the UN.
persona non grata: a person from another country who is declared
“unwanted” by a host state, usually occurring in the context of diplomats.
plenipotentiary powers: wide latitude in the freedom of decision and action
allowed a diplomat, especially earlier in history with poor communications and
travel.
political offense: a politically motivated act that governments object to, such
as rebellion, but, in modern times, are unlikely to appear in a list of common
crimes usually found in treaties of extradition.
political repression: state-sponsored terror to threaten and control its
population.
positivism: a philosophy of international law that claims this law is no more
than the rules to which states agree to be bound.
preemptive defense: a first strike to prevent an attack thought to be impending
and fairly certain to occur.
premises: the grounds and facilities of an embassy.
preventive diplomacy: based on UN experience, it is early diplomatic
intervention to avoid an escalating crisis.
principle: a firm guideline of law that falls below treaties and customs in a
hierarchy of importance regarding sources of international law.
private international law: focuses on the activities of individuals and groups,
as opposed to states, when family and business activities cross national
boundary lines producing effects on two or more countries. The distinction
between private and public international law is blurring.
private military companies: registered corporations that provide auxiliary
military services ranging from security as bodyguards to monitoring satellite
cameras. Often distinguished from mercenaries, especially if they remain
outside direct combat roles.
protocol: established practices and courtesies that allow diplomats to focus
on the substance of negotiation.
privileges and immunities: the protections and freedoms of action allowed
to diplomats and their embassies to do perform their functions.
protectionism: discouraging the purchase of foreign goods and encouraging
the rise of domestic industries.
protocol: established practices and courtesies that allow diplomats to focus
on the substance of negotiation.
public international law: primarily deals with the rights and duties of states
and IGOs.
publicists: legal scholars who contribute clarification of international law and
sometimes contribute to its rules.
R
ratification: the stage at which a state agrees to be bound by a treaty as a
lawful obligation. The state becomes a party to the treaty.
realists: leaders and scholars who focus on power relations and tend to hold
disdain for international law.
rebus sic standibus: as long as conditions remain the same; a state might
claim a condition undergirding a treaty has so altered that a treaty is invalid.
reciprocity: the mostly horizontal international legal system depends on
states returning in like kind compliance with obligations.
recognition: one state acknowledging the rightful existence of another
through an exchange of ambassadors.
regimes: rules and norms formed over an issue of common concern that
states usually obey.
regionalism: an identity by a sub-set of states based on cultural and
geographical connections; the claim has been made that many policy matters
are better handled at this level rather than globally.
registration: the UNʼs Charter Article 102 requires that copies of all treaties
be located with the UN and made public.
reprisal: a punitive act that is normally illegal but considered justified because
of another stateʼs prior offense; such an act had more support in customary
law of an earlier time than today.
res communis: a commons available for the use of all states such as the
oceans or outer space.
reservation: at time of signature or ratification a state may set aside one or
more articles of a treaty so as not to be bound by them.
restrictive immunity: qualifies a stateʼs immunity so that commercial
transactions by a state could be involved in a court case in another state.
retorsion: a legal but unfriendly act, such as withdrawing an ambassador, to
protest a wrongful act by another state.
rules: formal, usually written as in the case of treaties, expectations for the
behavior of actors.
S
scope: the range of subjects regulated by international rules.
self-determination: a prominent group right to self-rule that was claimed
especially by peoples of the Third World during the colonial era.
self-executing: a treaty that does not require enabling legislation for it to be
implemented. National policy varies on the recognition and use of this
concept.
self-help: a state acting on its own initiative to enforce international law or
defend itself.
shuttle diplomacy: diplomacy involving back and forth travel by an envoy to
help two disputants resolve their differences and made possible by modern jet
aircraft.
signature: a stage of treaty development that provides provisional consent by
diplomat, but formal approval by a state must occur to complete ratification.
sovereign: in adjective form (sovereign state), denotes that a state is a legal
equal to other states and is unbound by higher authority without its consent.
sovereign immunity: an act of comity, or courtesy, to exempt a stateʼs public
acts and property from the court cases of another state.
sovereignty: the legal equality of a state with other states and the freedom
from higher authority.
stare decisis: to stand by a previous decision by a court as a precedent while
deciding a current case.
state: a sovereign actor with a central government that rules over a territory
and population and represents that population in international relations.
state immunity: the same as sovereign immunity.
state responsibility: the circumstances under which a state is held
accountable for a breach of an international obligation. Historically, the focus
has been on the treatment of aliens on a stateʼs territory.
state succession: the passing of treaty obligations, archives, treasury, debts,
and other matters of the state to one or several other states when a state
breaks up into new states or becomes extinct.
stateless persons: an unusual situation, individuals without documentation
for international travel and who do not enjoy the diplomatic protection of a
state.
steady state: the human population using natural resources at a rate no
faster than they can be replenished.
strait: a narrow passage between two bodies of open sea within the
jurisdiction of one or more states. Straits are often between an island and the
coast of a particular state or lay between two separate countries.
subjects: an actor with the rights and duties of legal personality in some
degree.
summit diplomacy: a personal meeting of leaders for direct negotiations,
especially used in the age of jet aircraft.
supervening impossibility of performance: substantial change that makes
a treaty, or some its articles, irrelevant, such as a river drying up that was
once designated as a boundary.
supranational: authority exercised above the heads of sovereign states
although they are sovereign entities. The best example is the EU.
sustainable development: economic development that meets the needs of
the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations.
T
territorial sea: the band of water along a stateʼs coast under a stateʼs
exclusive jurisdiction. Traditionally, 3 miles in width but 12 miles since the
1982 LOS convention.
terrorists: private actors that use or threaten sudden and surprising violence
to intimidate a government and citizenry as a means to achieve a political
goal.
track-two diplomacy: first track diplomacy is by diplomatic agents of states,
and the second is by private parties of two or more states who volunteer to
help resolve state differences.
transit passage: innocent passage through a strait.
treaty: an international agreement concluded between two or more states but
can also be between IGOs or an IGO and a state.
V
visa: a stamp on a passport that is prearranged permission for a foreigner to
enter a country.
W
war: a belligerent struggle either inside a country or between states lasting
several months and causing a thousand battle deaths or more.
war crimes: the violation of the laws and customs of war including murder,
illtreatment of pows, plunder, and rape, among other crimes. country.
Z
zero population growth: a stable population size achieved by each couple
having two children to replace themselves.