Rechte des Einzelnen im Völkerrecht Rechte des Einzelnen im Völkerrecht
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Since the International Court of Justice's ruling in the LaGrand case in 2001, the question whether individuals hold own rights in international law challenges one of the main principles in international law: the mediation of the individual by and through the State. International law is originally known as the body of rules and principles of action which are binding upon civilized States and international organisations and their relations with one another. In the area of consular protection law the prevailing opinion has traditionally been that the treatment due to individuals under the Vienna Convention is inextricably linked to and derived from the right of the State, acting through its consular officer, to communicate with its nationals. The State's discretionary powers can be enforced by individual legal action only at the national level. According to this concept the State serves as the mediator for the individual in protecting the individual against breaches of international law. The LaGrand judgement of the International Court of Justice has given a fundamental turn to this situation. In LaGrand the Court interpreted Article 36 of the Vienna Convention in favour of the existence of own individual rights of citizens who have been illegally denied the right to see a home country diplomat when jailed abroad. This decision has been the subject of much debate since it can be linked to a general debate about the conception, understanding and future developments of international law. In reaction to the notion of granting individual rights in the area of consular relations the United States only recently withdrew from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights in order to protect themselves against future International Court of Justice judgements that might similarly interpret the consular convention. The above article examines the problem of individual rights in international law in the light of consular protection. The author gives an overview of chances and risks on the question whether granting individual rights in Article 36 of the Consular Convention is in congruence with the general concept of international law.