1923

PCIJ

Status of Eastern Carelia Advisory opinion

In 1920 the USSR and Finland terminated war between them by treaty of Dorpat. The treaty contained clauses related the guaranteeing of certain rights to the inhabitants of two communes reincorporated to the USSR and attached to Eastern Carelia, an autonomous territory. The conditions of Carelia’s autonomy were drafted in ‘declaration by the Russian delegation concerning the autonomy of Eastern Carelia’ Finland alleged that USSR failed to fulfil its obligations under the declaration that was binding as the Treaty itself The Finland representation to the LN asked the council to request an advisory opinion. The LN sought an opinion concerned the interpretation of a peace treaty Soviet Union/Finland that bore upon a dispute on the status of Easter Carelia.

The only one case in which the court has declined, in the exercise of its discretion, to give an opinion. Soviet Union was not a member of LN and had not given its consent to the examination of the question by the court, USSR refused to participate in the proceedings; the court was concerned that it would, in fact, be deciding the dispute without the consent of one of the parties. However two points: a. ICJ is an organ of UN; PCIJ was not an organ of LN; b. PCIJ can give opinion on ‘disputes’ ICJ on ‘any legal question’. Lack of consent was not a problem in South West Africa, Namibia and in Western Sahara, where ‘Spain had consent jurisdiction to Advisory opinion since it was a member of UN and ICJ’