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World Court Digest

I. Substantive International Law - First Part
2.1. General Questions
2.1.1. Formation of Rules of International Law

¤ Legality of the Threat or Use
of Nuclear Weapons
Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996
I.C.J. Reports 1996, p. 226

[p. 291 S.O. Guillaume] In operative paragraph 2 E the Court decided in fact that it could not in those extreme circumstances conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful. In other words, it concluded that in such circumstances the law provided no guide for States. But if the law is silent in this case, States remain free to act as they intend.
10. International law rests on the principle of the sovereignty of States and thus originates from their consent. In other words, in the excellent language of the Permanent Court, "international law governs relations between independent States. The rules of law binding upon States therefore emanate from their own free will." ("Lotus", Judgment No. 9, 1927, P.C.I.J., Series A, No. 10, p. 18.)