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3.3 General principles of law recognised by civilised nations

As is true of other aspect of international law, the question of general principles of law is a subject of disagreement. Even the drafting materials, the travaux préparatoires of the drafting committee reveals different views. The American member of the drafting committee, Elihu Root appeared to have in mind principles recognised in national legal systems. Article 38(1)(c) of the Statute of the ICJ (UN 1945) refers to the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations, not general principles of international law. However, there is reserve about inferring international law from municipal law especially if 'Civilised Nations' was intended to mean western nations. A reason for the inclusion of this source of international law is to assist in making decisions where there are gaps in the law. This may allow an international court to avoid declaring the matter is legally unclear, non liquet, and thus decline to resolve the dispute in question. Some basic principles of law commonly cited include: The principle of good faith, which is being faithful to a sense of obligation; the bar against a party raising a claim again after it has been settled by judicial decision (res judicata); and the bar that precludes taking a position which is contrary to a position already established either by previous admission or action and legally determined as being true (estoppel).