. Since the emergenceof the international law from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, sovereignty is definedas the modern state’s sole control and ultimate authority over decision-makingwithin its territory.
The S.S.Lotus Casedecided by the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1927 invented theLotus Principle, which broadened the latitude of state’s sovereignty, andreinforced this principle as foundations of the international law. In August1926, the French steamer Lotus and Turkish steamer Boz-Kourt collided on thehigh sea, causing the destruction of Boz-Kourt and the death of eight Turkish citizens.Turkey pursued criminal prosecutions based on Turkish law against M. Demons, a Frenchcitizen.
The questions presented were: whether Turkey possessed jurisdictionover Demons, and what pecuniary reparation should be paid to Demons under the internationallaw if Turkey had no jurisdiction in the first place. The court ruled thatTurkey did not violate the international law and obtained jurisdiction on the criminalprosecution against Demons based on three sovereignty-emphasized arguments. First,the nature of international law to regulate relations of states is to respectthe sovereign will of states without “presumed restrictions” (para.
44). Thecourt relied on the external independence component from the principle of sovereigntyand emphasized Turkey’s external independence from France. While internationallaw prohibits the exertion of state power outside of its territory, the court thenargued that the exclusive internal jurisdiction was guaranteed by sovereignty regardlessof the absence of “permissive rule of international law” (para.
45-46). The lastargument reflected that sovereignty implies no higher authority over the state.Additionally, the Lotus Principle highlighted that unless the state’s practice contravenesthe explicit prohibition of international law, it is titled to exercise its jurisdictionwithin its sovereignty (para. 47). Overall, this case clarified the scope andconstraints on state’s sovereignty, and further reinforced and advanced theprinciple of sovereignty as the cornerstone for international legal systems.