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The historical evolution of the optional clause

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The article provides a detailed analysis of the historical origins of the Optional Clause, spanning over two international conferences and more than two decades. Declarations made under Article 36 (2) of the ICJ Statute, known as the Optional Clause, are a relatively novel way of conferring jurisdiction. They were introduced for the first time in the Statute of the PCIJ as a compromise between states desiring true compulsory jurisdiction and those wishing to retain the traditional consensual character of international adjudication. Today, adherence to the Optional Clause remains stable over the last fifty years. Currently, of the 189 member-states to the UN and Switzerland sixty-four of them have deposited declarations recognizing the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court under Article 36 (2), This brings acceptance of the Optional Clause to approximately 1/3.

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Affiliations: 1: Queen Mary, University of London, Department of Law, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS E-mail:


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