Les opinions séparées et leurs répercussions sur l’indépendance du juge international
Significant discrepancies in the determination of the scope of the obligation of secrecy of deliberations by various international tribunals have led to the fact that some international judges are endowed with the right to a separate opinion, while others do not enjoy it. Taking into account the rol...
|Source:||ACDI - Anuario Colombiano de Derecho Internacional, ISSN 2145-4493, Vol. 3, 2010, pags. 27-70|
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Significant discrepancies in the determination of the scope of the obligation of secrecy of deliberations by various international tribunals have led to the fact that some international judges are endowed with the right to a separate opinion, while others do not enjoy it. Taking into account the role and missions of the international judiciary, international judges should be given a right to separate opinions, like common law judges and many constitutional judges. Nevertheless, such analogies played only a marginal role in the preparatory works on the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1920. Indeed, it seemed politically unacceptable to the States that the legal opinion of an international judge, personifying them and their sovereign power within the court, should be condemned to anonymity by virtue of the principle of secrecy of deliberations, due only to the "technical" fact that such an opinion has been outweighed by the majority at the moment of voting on the draft judgment. There is a permissive rule of general International Law guaranteeing an autonomous power to the international judiciary to lay down, in the rules of procedure of any international court, the right to separate opinion, even if such a right is not expressly provided for by its statute or other constituting treaty. The aforementioned rule is presumed to apply unless it can be deduced from the behaviour of the founding States that they wished to derogate from it. The right to separate opinions can also be analysed from the perspective of judges' right to freedom of expression. In accordance with this freedom, an international judge can feel free to demonstrate systematically, in the form of separate opinions, the intellectual weaknesses of the majority views and reasoning, subject to avoiding offensive style and formulations. Such a form of expression is presumed to cause no harm to the authority of the judiciary. If some positive effects of absence or prohibition of separate opinions on the independence of international judges sitting in the case cannot be set aside too easily, nevertheless, such a serious measure restricting substantially their right to freedom of expression seems to be neither sufficiently efficient nor proportional to this pursued legitimate aim. There are other, more efficient and less restrictive tools which are also able to lead to the same result (for example, introduction of a single, non renewable mandate for international judges).