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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Non liquet

Daniel Bodansky

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 February 2024

Subject(s):
Sovereignty — Admissibility — Customary international law — Advisory opinions — International courts and tribunals, decisions — International organizations, practice and procedure — Standing — State practice

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law under the direction of Professor Anne Peters (2021–) and Professor Rüdiger Wolfrum (2004–2020). 

1 The term ‘non liquet’ literally means ‘it is not clear’. In Roman law, it referred simply to the deferment of a case for insufficient information. But today, a finding of non liquet means that the court cannot decide a case due to a gap (or lacuna) in the law. Although courts and legal scholars have traditionally rejected non liquet as prohibited by international law, the implicit finding of a non liquet by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Advisory Opinion) (Nuclear Weapons Advisory Opinions) has...
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