The system of dissenting and separate opinions is said to be essential to the success of the World Court and through it, of international law. On that basis international law seems to be enjoying unprecedented prosperity, for, by contrast with the Permanent Court of International Justice, separate and dissenting opinions currently exceed the judgments of the International Court of Justice (hereinafter the Court) by a considerable margin in terms of the number of pages, a new record being set by Judge Schwebel's dissenting opinion in the judgment of the Court of 27 June 1986. Of course, this situation may be less indicative of the success of international law than to the fact that its scope and content are becoming increasingly open to question. In any event, international law may derive more rather than less strength from the fact that dividing lines are not drawn automatically between judges from North and South or East and West. Even the judgments in the by now famous cases of the American hostages in Tehran and the (para)military activities in and against Nicaragua are widely supported by judges hailing from the main forms of civilisation and the principal legal systems.
* Rechtsreferendar at the Civil Court of Münster, Federal Republic of Germany.
** Professor of International Law at the Free University of Amsterdam.