Important elements of international law include sovereignty, recognition (which allows one country to comply with another's claims), consent (which allows modifications to international agreements to adapt to a country's customs), freedom of the high seas, self-defense (which ensures that measures can be taken. International law, also called public international law or law of nations, the set of rules, norms and legal standards that apply between sovereign states and other entities that are legally recognized as international actors. The term was coined by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748—183). According to Bentham's classic definition, international law is a collection of norms that govern relations between states.
It is an example of how much international law has evolved that this original definition omits individuals and international organizations, two of the most dynamic and vital elements of modern international law. In addition, it is no longer accurate to view international law as a mere collection of rules; rather, it is a rapidly developing complex of rules and influential, though not directly binding, principles, practices and statements, along with increasingly sophisticated structures and processes. In its broadest sense, international law provides policy guidelines, as well as methods, mechanisms and a common conceptual language for international actors ie,. The range of subjects and actors directly related to international law has expanded considerably, going beyond the classic issues of war, peace and diplomacy to include human rights, economic and trade issues, space law and international organizations.
While international law is a legal and unethical order, it has been significantly influenced by ethical principles and concerns, particularly in the field of human rights. International law is distinct from international courtesy, which includes legally non-binding practices adopted by States on grounds of courtesy (for example,. In addition, the study of international law, or public international law, is distinguished from the field of conflict of laws, or private international law, which deals with the norms of domestic law as international lawyers call the domestic law of states of different countries where foreign elements are found implicated. International law is an independent legal system that exists outside the legal systems of particular states.
It differs from national legal systems in several respects. For example, although the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), which consists of representatives of some 190 countries, has the external appearance of a legislature, it has no power to issue binding laws. Rather, its resolutions only serve as recommendations, except in specific cases and for certain purposes within the United Nations system, such as determining the UN budget, admitting new members of the UN and, with the participation of the Security Council, electing new judges for the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In addition, there is no court system with broad jurisdiction in international law.
The jurisdiction of the ICJ in contentious cases is based on the consent of the States concerned in particular. There is no international police force or comprehensive law enforcement system, and there is no supreme executive authority. The UN Security Council may authorize the use of force to force States to comply with its decisions, but only in specific and limited circumstances; essentially, there must be a prior act of aggression or the threat of such an act. In addition, any such enforcement action may be vetoed by any of the five permanent members of the council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States).
Because there is no standing UN army, the forces involved must meet from member states on an ad hoc basis. International law is a distinctive part of the general structure of international relations. In considering responses to a particular international situation, States often consider relevant international laws. While considerable attention is invariably focused on violations of international law, States generally take care to ensure that their actions conform to the norms and principles of international law, because to act otherwise would be viewed negatively by the international community.
The rules of international law are rarely applied by military means or even through the use of economic sanctions. Instead, the system is based on reciprocity or an enlightened sense of self-interest. States that violate international norms suffer from a decline in credibility that may harm them in future relations with other States. Therefore, a violation of a treaty by one State for its benefit may induce other states to violate other treaties and, therefore, cause harm to the original violator.
In addition, it is generally recognized that constant violations of the rules would jeopardize the value that the system brings to the community of states, international organizations and other actors. This value consists of certainty, predictability and a sense of common purpose in international affairs that derives from the existence of a set of rules accepted by all international actors. International law also provides a framework and set of procedures for international interaction, as well as a common set of concepts for understanding it. International law consists of rules and principles governing the relations and treatment of nations with each other, as well as relations between States and individuals, and relations between international organizations.
Public international law deals only with issues of rights between several nations or nations and citizens or subjects of other nations. On the contrary, private international law deals with disputes between individuals. These controversies arise from situations that have a significant relationship with multiple nations. In recent years, the line between public and private international law has become increasingly uncertain.
Private international law issues can also involve issues of public international law, and many matters of private international law have substantial international importance. Customary law and treaty law are the main sources of international law. Customary international law occurs when states generally and consistently follow certain practices out of a sense of legal obligation. Recently, customary law was codified in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
Conventional international law derives from international conventions and may take any form that the contracting parties agree. However, these contracting parties may not violate the rules of international law. As in U.S. contract law, international agreements create laws for the parties to the agreement.
Customary law and laws promulgated by international agreements (such as those adopted by the United Nations) have the same authority as international law. Private or public parties can assign higher priority to one of the sources by agreement. General principles that are common to systems of national law can be a secondary source of international law. There are situations in which neither conventional nor customary international law can be applied.
In these cases, a general principle can be invoked as a rule of international law. Traditionally, individual countries were the main subjects of international law. Increasingly, individuals and international non-state organizations are also subject to international regulation. The United States normally respects the laws of other nations, unless there is a law or treaty to the contrary.
International law is often part of the U.S. UU. Act solely for the application of its principles on issues of international rights and duties. International law, however, does not restrict the United States or any other nation from drafting laws governing its own territory.
A State of the United States is not a state under international law, since the Constitution does not confer on all 50 states the capacity to conduct their own foreign relations. There is no central international body that creates public international law; it is created by several sources. International law is distinct from international courtesy, which includes legally non-binding practices adopted by States on grounds of courtesy (e). In the absence of decisions of international tribunals, the body of international legal doctrine depends on the articulation of jurisprudence in books and journal articles.
See also the commentary on the Commission's conclusions and the history of the doctrine of customary international law in Jean d'Aspremont, “The Four Lives of Customary International Law”. In its broadest sense, international law provides policy guidelines, as well as methods, mechanisms and a common conceptual language for international actors (i). To find more materials on customary international law in library catalogs, use the heading Customary International Law. .