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Public international law

A first-class public international law practice.

States, corporations, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and individuals turn to Freshfields to represent them as counsel and to advise them on their most important issues across the full spectrum of public international law.

We have acted as counsel in cases before all major international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, and many different kinds of specialised courts, tribunals and commissions.

We also have a very active advisory practice, evaluating risks and opportunities presented by issues of public international law and helping our clients determine their best course of action.

Our recent experience includes work on:

  • sovereignty over territory;
  • boundary disputes;
  • the law of the sea;
  • rights to and regulation of natural resources, including hydrocarbons, fresh water and fisheries;
  • inter-state arrangements for sharing resources;
  • statehood and recognition of governments;
  • the law of treaties;
  • international environmental law;
  • cross-boundary infrastructure;
  • control over airspace;
  • state immunity and diplomatic immunity;
  • acting for investors and states in arbitrations under treaties on the protection of foreign investments;
  • issues of public international law arising before national or regional courts or regulatory authorities;
  • international human rights law;
  • business and human rights issues;
  • sanctions;
  • international humanitarian law; and
  • international criminal law.

Members of our public international law practice come from both common law and civil law backgrounds, and among other languages can work in Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. They hold doctorates in international law, regularly teach postgraduate courses at leading universities, and deliver and publish academic and practical papers on international law and its application.

Further information about our public international law practice can be found here

Examples of our work

  • Slovenia in its arbitration with Croatia concerning their maritime and land boundaries;
  • Myanmar in its maritime boundary delimitation case with Bangladesh before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea;
  • Kosovo in advisory proceedings before the International Court of Justice concerning its unilateral declaration of independence;
  • Argentina in its environmental law dispute with Uruguay before the International Court of Justice concerning the River Uruguay;
  • Romania in a dispute with Ukraine before the International Court of Justice concerning maritime delimitation in the Black Sea;
  • Iran in a dispute with the US before the International Court of Justice concerning attacks carried out on offshore oil production complexes; and
  • Iran in several state-to-state proceedings before the Iran-US Claims Tribunal.