Legal Implications of Peremptory Norms on Sources of International Law

Dr. Mohammad Khalil Al Mousa

Associate Professor – Public International Law – College of Law – University of UAE


Positive international law officially endorsed the idea of ​​peremptory norms in Article (53) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. The idea raised important questions, among the most prominent and most important of which are the scope of the legal effects of peremptory norms, especially on the sources of international law, whereas, the jurisprudence of international law continues to waver between limiting the effects of peremptory norms to international treaties only and stating that these effects are not exclusive to treaty sources and should include other sources of international law. The International Law Commission began addressing this issue three years ago and has reached draft conclusions in this regard.
This research has dealt with this important issue due to its great implications on the application of the sources of international law and determining applicable law to international facts. The research sought, through a methodology based on an analysis of contemporary international practice, to prove that the scope of peremptory norms includes all sources of international law, not only international treaties. The research analyzed and studied the effect of peremptory norms on international norms and the unilateral actions of persons of international law, in addition to their impact on international treaties.
The research revealed the fact that Article (53) of the Vienna Convention does not mean that the theory of peremptory norms is limited to the scope of international treaty law, but rather has various effects. Peremptory norms have other effects on various topics of international law, including international criminal law, states immunity law and sources of international law. The research dealt with the effects of those rules on the various sources of international law, including the invalidity of international treaties in conflict with them, the impossibility of a conflict between a peremptory norm and international custom, and the invalidity of the unilateral acts of states that violate them. It also concluded that nullity in these cases is only a last resort after failing to find an explanation that eliminates the conflict between the peremptory norm and other international rules.

Keywords: international treaties, unilateral acts, international norms, international public order, nullity.

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