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When I first heard this account of my father’s early motivation to take up international law I cannot remember, but it surfaces again, I believe, in the Columbia University oral history. His experience in the trenches in France towards the end of the First World War was the key. He was in the infantry, carrying a light machine gun, and fought through a number of the terminal battles with the American Expeditionary Forces. Although he was shipped back at the end of the war as a West Point candidate, he mustered out at the earliest opportunity to resume civilian life and complete his undergraduate degree at Hamilton College.
For the first time the International Court of Justice has squarely faced and ruled upon the right of a third state to intervene in a case to which two other states are parties. The litigation was the Case Concerning the Continental Shelf (Tunisia/Libyan Arab Jamahiriya), Application of Malta for Permission to Intervene, Judgment of April 14, 1981. The Court unanimously denied permission to intervene, but three judges appended separate opinions which contain matters of considerable interest.
Territorial disputes are commonplace in the history of international relations. The United States has had its share—the northeastern boundary with the British territories after the Revolutionary War, “54:40 or fight” in 1845–1846, the Alaskan boundary arbitration in 1903, and many others— including El Chamizal. This “thicket” or “brierpatch” was one in which the friendly relations between the United States and Mexico were entangled for almost a century. “The Chamizal conflict has not been a major factor in United States-Mexican relations, but has been a constant emotional irritant which has plagued both nations and had frequent reverberations throughout Latin America.”
In addressing oneself to the subject of “diversity and uniformity in the law of nations,” it is well to suggest at the outset that these two attributes are perennially present not only in the international legal system but in many, if not all, legal systems. This is a statement of the obvious, but it merits some attention at a time when there is such a spate of writing about the changes in international law which are said to be required to meet the needs of an international society which is itself experiencing great changes.