Acta Universitatis Danubius. Administratio, Vol 9, No 1 (2017)

On The Issue Of So-Called ’Instant’ Customs In International Law

Boris Krivokapic


 The so-called ‘instant’ international customs are sometimes singled out as a special type of international customary law. The author analyses the two basic cases in which such customs could possibly arise – the situation in which there is just a single unilateral act, accompanied by opinio juris, and the situation in which, reportedly, no practice is needed, due to general opinio juris. He observes that, although it looks tempting, the idea that customary rules of law may appear instantly is opposite to the very nature of any custom. On the other hand, any attempt to marginalize the general practice of the state as one of two key elements of international law customs threatens the whole concept of a custom in international law. In fact, the proponents of instant emergence of international legal practices confuse the customary rules of international law and other sources of international law. The author emphasizes that the ideas about ‘instant’ custom in international law harbor great opportunities of abuse, giving wide, yet also very slippery space to impose the will of some countries. This is especially because the universal international law customs bind all countries.


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