Book Review: International Law: The British Commonwealth in International Law

Published date01 September 1964
Date01 September 1964
DOI10.1177/002070206401900316
BooK
REVIEWS
393
International
Law
THE
BRITISH
COMMONWEALTH
IN
INTERNATIONAL
LAW.
By
J.
E.
S.
Fawcett.
1963.
(London:
Stevens.
Toronto: Carswell.
xvii,
243pp.
$11.30)
This
timely
and
useful
volume
presents,
in compact
and
somewhat
technical
form,
an
analysis
of
theory and
practice
in
the
Commonwealth
from
the
point
of
view of
international
law.
The
author
proceeds
from
the
observation
that
the
Commonwealth
is
"easier
described
than
con-
ceived."
He
suggests
that
to
rationalize
Its
workings
is difficult,
and
that
many
think
it
is
in
the
interest
of
the
Commonwealth
that
this
should
be
so
(vii).
First
planned
as
a
new
edition
of
the
volume
pub-
lished
in
1929
(with
Philip
Noel
Baker)
entitled The
Present
Juridical
Status
of
the
Dominions
in
International
Law,
the present
work
is
a
wholly new
one.
It
has
been
made necessary, in
the
author's
view,
by
the
vast
changes
in
the
Commonwealth and
in
international
organiza-
tion
since
1929.
Emphasis
is
upon
the
relations
of
Commonwealth
states
inter
se,
although
at
various
points
there
are
references
to
legal
arrangements
with
outside
states.
On
the
question
of
status,
the
author
feels
that
while
the
actual
handling
of
questions
touching admission
to
and
ex-
pulsion
from
the
Commonwealth
provide
guiding
principles,
the
latter
have not
yet
crystallized
into binding
rules.
In
the
case
of
South
Africa's
withdrawal
he
finds
that
the
"effect"
was
expulsion
and
that
the
exclusion
was
necessary
for
preservation
of
"any
Commonwealth
pattern
at
all"
(pp.
87,
226).
Consultation among
the
existing
members
must
precede
admission
of
new
ones;
the
latter
may
be
"foreign"
states,
provided
that
they
are
independent.
It
is
the
obligation
of
members
to
recognize
the
Queen
either
as Sovereign
or
as
Head
of
the
Common-
wealth,
to
consult and
co-operate
upon
matters
of
common
concern,
and
in
their
internal
policies
to observe
the
principle
that
races
composing
the
Commonwealth
are
equal
in
status.
The
Commonwealth
itself
is
"not
an
international
person"
(p.
88).
The
author
examines
at
some
length
the
process
by which
present
Commonwealth
members
have
come
to
have
their
present
stations
as
international
persons.
He
notes,
for
example,
the
unique
situation
of
Malaya
(now
Malaysia) in
the
Commonwealth,
the
Federation
having
been
created
by
international
agreement
(p.
101).
While
the
author
finds
no evidence
either
in
constitution provisions
or
in
court
decision
of
a general
theory
of
the relationship
of
inter-
national
law
and
municipal
law
in
the
Commonwealth,
he
submits
that
practice
in
the
United
Kingdom
and
in
other
Commonwealth
countries
shows
a
flexibility
(in
the
reception of
international
law)
which
may
serve
as well
as
a
general theory
(p.
73).
There
Is
extensive
examina-
tion
of
the
reception
of
international
law
in
the
Commonwealth
states,
and
emphasis
upon
such
propositions
as
that
in
English
law
action
by
the
Crown
as
an
international
person
does
not
bind
it
under
municipal
law
(p.
135).
The
situation
of Eire
in
relation
to
the
Common-
wealth
comes
in
at
various
points,
as,
for
example, in
connection
with

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