Jus cogens

Definition

Jus cogens (from Latin: compelling law; from English: peremptory norm) refers to certain fundamental, overriding principles of international law.

Overview

There is near-universal agreement for the existence of the category of jus cogens norms, and its existence is memorialized in Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT): “[A] treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law.”

However, in practice, the attempt to classify certain rules, rights, and duties as peremptory norms have not been very successful.

Examples of jus cogens norms include prohibitions against crimes against humanity, genocide, and human trafficking. 

Further Reading

For more on jus cogens, see this Santa Clara Journal of International Law article, this Chinese Journal of International Law article, and this Penn State International Law Review article