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Wrongful Lying by States

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>18/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Cornell Journal of International Law
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In 2020, a war of words broke out between America and China over the origins of Covid-19, with both accusing the other of telling lies. The problem is that there is nothing in the contemporary doctrine and literature to explain whether State lying is, or should be, considered wrongful, as a matter of international law. This work fills this lacuna by taking the insights from speech act theory to explain why (and when) State lying should be regulated, as one part of the international law on insincere State utterances. Using the rules of language use, the article first uncovers an existing body of law on insincere State utterances, whereby the State is taken to mean what it says, when States are co-ordinating their plans of action (the lex lata). The work then argues that this legal principle should be extended to include State lying (the lex ferenda), because lies are insincere speech actions, made with the intention of deceiving other States.