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Report of the International Committee of Jurists Entrusted by the Council of the League of Nations with the Task of Giving an Advisory Opinion upon the Legal Aspects of the Aaland Islands Question

The International Committee of Jurists of the Council of the League of Nations
League of Nations Official Journal, Special Supp. No. 3 (1920)


Facts

After World War I (the War), while settling issues resulting from the War, the Allies adopted a position with an emphasis on self-determination for national groups in dealing with the Central Powers. As a result of negotiations and peace conferences, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires were broken up, and Russia and Germany lost territory. Various new nations were created, including Finland (defendant). The borders of these new nations were drawn in such a way as to arrange national groups within their respective nations to the extent possible. The new countries had their own minority groups, which soon began to make self-determination claims in order to gain independence. The Aaland Islands (plaintiff) was one such group, consisting of about 300 islands between Finland and Sweden. Previous wars between Sweden and Russia had resulted in the Swedish cession of Finland and Finland’s nearby land to Russia. Soon after, Finland declared independence from Russia. The Aaland Islands’ population was almost completely composed of people of Swedish origin who wanted to be united with Sweden. Finland refused to recognize the Aaland Islands’ desired status. As a result, the Council of the League of Nations (the Council) created the International Committee of Jurists to decide whether the Council could address the dispute or whether Finland had complete control over the outcome.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

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Holding and Reasoning

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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