Since French citizen. The questions presented were: whether Turkey

Since the emergence
of the international law from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, sovereignty is
interpreted as the modern state’s sole control and ultimate authority over decision-making
within its territory. The S.S.Lotus Case
decided by the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1927 invented the
Lotus Principle, which broadened the latitude of state’s sovereignty, and
reinforced this principle as foundations of the international law. In August
1926, the French steamer Lotus and Turkish steamer Boz-Kourt collided on the
high sea, causing the destruction of Boz-Kourt and the death of eight Turkish citizens.

Turkey pursued criminal prosecutions based on Turkish law against M. Demons, a French
citizen. The questions presented were: whether Turkey possessed jurisdiction
over Demons, and what pecuniary reparation should be paid to Demons under the international
law if Turkey had no jurisdiction in the first place. The court ruled that
Turkey did not violate the international law and obtained jurisdiction on the criminal
prosecution against Demons based on three sovereignty-emphasized arguments. First,
the nature of international law to regulate relations of states is to respect
the sovereign will of states without “presumed restrictions” (para. 44). The
court relied on the external independence component from the principle of sovereignty
and emphasized Turkey’s external independence from France. While international
law prohibits the exertion of state power outside of its territory, the court then
argued that the exclusive internal jurisdiction was guaranteed by sovereignty regardless
of the absence of “permissive rule of international law” (para. 45-46). The last
argument reflected that sovereignty implies no higher authority over the state.

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Additionally, the Lotus Principle highlighted that unless the state’s practice contravenes
the explicit prohibition of international law, it is titled to exercise its jurisdiction
freely within its sovereignty (para. 47). Overall, this case clarified the
scope and constraints on state’s sovereignty, and further reinforced and
advanced the principle of sovereignty as the cornerstone for international legal
systems.