Since to exercise its jurisdiction freely withinSince to exercise its jurisdiction freely within

Since
Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the principle of sovereignty in international law
is interpreted as the modern state’s sole control and ultimate authority over decision-making
within its territory. The S.S.Lotus Case
decided by the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1927 presented the
Lotus Principle, which broadened the latitude of state’s sovereignty, and
reinforced this principle as foundations of the international law. In August
1926, the French steamer Lotus and Turkish steamer Boz-Kourt collided on the
high sea, destroying Boz-Kourt and causing the death of eight Turkish passengers
and sailors. Turkey pursued criminal prosecutions based on Turkish law against M.

Demons, a French citizen. The questions presented were: whether Turkey
possessed jurisdiction over Demons, and what pecuniary reparation should be
paid to Demons under the international law if Turkey had no jurisdiction in the
first place. The court ruled that Turkey did not violate the international law
and obtained jurisdiction on the criminal prosecution against Demons based on
three sovereignty-emphasized arguments. First, the nature of international law to
regulate relations of states is to respect the sovereign will of states without
“presumed restrictions” (para. 44). The court relied on the external
independence component from the principle of sovereignty and emphasized Turkey’s
external independence from France. While international law prohibits the
exercise of state power outside of its territory, the court then argued that
the exclusive internal jurisdiction was guaranteed by sovereignty regardless of
the absence of “permissive rule of international law” (para. 45-46). The last argument
reflected that sovereignty implies no higher authority above the state. Additionally,
the Lotus Principle highlighted that unless the state’s practice contravenes the
explicit prohibition of international law, it is titled to exercise its jurisdiction
freely within its sovereignty (para. 47). Overall, this case clarified the
scope and constraints on state’s sovereignty, and further reinforced and
advanced the principle of sovereignty as the cornerstone for international legal
systems. 

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