Exploring the boundaries of international law
Exploring the boundaries of international law

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Exploring the boundaries of international law

1.2 Achieving legal personality

The nature and degree of international legal personality is dependent on a complex set of factors. You will consider how states come into existence in more detail in Section 2 of this course. For the other subjects of international law, personality is achieved when it is conferred, accepted or recognised by states. It is ‘derived’ personality, rather than the ‘original’ personality, which states achieve. Legal personality has been granted to territories placed under mandates and also to populations of non-self-governing territories. Insurgents and national liberation movements, such as the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), are capable of acquiring a limited form of legal personality. This may enable them to enter binding legal agreements, be bound by the principles of humanitarian law and participate in the proceedings of the UN as observers. The PLO became an observer in November 1974.

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Figure 1 Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, shaking hands with Yasser Arafat, PLO chairman, after signing the Oslo Accords in Washington, DC 1993

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