Colin B. Picker

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Despite the increasing codification of international legal norms, the doctrine of countermeasures has emerged as a viable element of customary international law. Proponents of the countermeasure doctrine assert that it legitimates a state's otherwise illegal breach of international law. In this article, the author examines the Canadian Inside Passage transit fee. Conceived of as a legitimate countermeasure, the transit fee is transformed from a violation of international law and Canadian treaty obligations into a legitimate action under customary international law. The author proceeds to evaluate the specific countermeasures that both the United States and Canada exacted on each other during the dispute. The author then uses the transit fee controversy to give meaning to the doctrine of countermeasures and define its parameters.

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