Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


In this Article, the author discusses the likely approach of the International Court of Justice to the issue of self-determination for East Timor in the forthcoming case between Portugal and Australia. To this end, the substantive jurisprudence of the Court will be outlined in the area of self-determination. Initially, the existence of a right to selfdetermination is established at international law (and in the work of the Court). Next the application of this principle to East Timor is considered. Third, potential qualifications on this right are discussed. Finally, an inquiry is made into the legal relationship between the people claiming the right of self-determination and certain third parties. The author introduces the discussion with some remarks about the function of the Court in the international community and, in particular, how the political debate about this function affects its decision-making.