International Law

International Legal Research

Information about International Law in free legal resources:

Treaties & Agreements

International Organizations

Jurisprudence $ Commentary

European Union

IP Law

International Law

International Law consists of the rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of States and of international organizations in their international relations with one another and with private individuals, minority groups and transnational companies.

Legal Issues

International law is, generally speaking, a special body of rules, consisting of customs, international treaties (and conventions), decisions of international judicial bodies, and legal or moral principles which have been accepted and followed by most countries of the world.4 It is ‘law’ in a loose sense. The enforceability and the authority of modern international law has three manifestations: collective economic sanction, collective military sanction and adjudication by international tribunals. This is totally different from the enforcement of a domestic law, because there is only limited enforcement of international law either by an international judicial or semi-judicial body, such as the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights; or by a coalition of nations or states, such as the decisions of the United Nations or its Security Council. In addition, the enforcement of international law may from time to time cause controversies between countries with conflicting interests: for example, the Iraq and Somalia crises, the war in Bosnia and the French nuclear tests in the Pacific. Countries may have conflicting opinions as to whether a particular act is justified or ‘legal’.(1)

Introduction Affairs

International Law, principles, rules, and standards that govern nations and other participants in international affairs in their relations with one another. International law is the law of the international community. Most international law consists of long-standing customs, provisions agreed to in treaties, and generally accepted principles of law recognized by nations. Some international law is also created by the rulings of international courts and organizations.

The purposes of international law include resolution of problems of a regional or global scope (such as environmental pollution or global warming), regulation of areas outside the control of any one nation (such as outer space or the high seas), and adoption of common rules for multinational activities (such as air transport or postal service). International law also aims to maintain peaceful international relations when possible and resolve international tensions peacefully when they develop, to prevent needless suffering during wars, and to improve the human condition during peacetime.

Enforcement of international law is often difficult because nations are sovereign (independent) powers that may put their own interests ahead of those of the international community. In addition, the mechanisms of enforcement are young and not well developed. Enforcement may be effectively achieved, however, through the actions of individual nations, agencies of international organizations such as the United Nations (UN), and international courts. The United Nations Security Council can authorize economic sanctions, diplomatic sanctions, or military force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

International law began as a system governing the relations among sovereign states, and states have always been the primary legal entities affected by international law. As the global system has become more complex, however, international law has come to recognize and regulate international organizations, businesses, nonprofit entities, and individuals. The emergence of international human rights law and, more recently, international criminal law reflects the fact that individuals today are direct subjects of international law in certain respects.” (2)

Legal Materials

Free Resources on International Law

The “Open Source/Free/Cost-Effective Movement” (Hackerson) is not just a U.S. phenomenon, but also a global one. There are a number of free resources that will allow lawyers to access international and foreign Internet law resources. Some contain documents written in the official language of a particular country or jurisdiction, but for many, either the English translations or the databases and their documents are available primarily in English. (3)

  • Curia: The website of the European Court of Justice.
  • FLARE – Foreign Law Research: FLARE reflects collaboration between the major libraries collecting law in the United Kingdom: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Bodleian Law Library, Squire Law Library, British Library, and School of Oriental and African Studies. This site contains research guides that discuss case reporters for each jurisdiction (ials.sas.ac.uk/flare/flare.htm).
  • GlobaLex: GlobaLex is a product distributed by New York University Law School without charge, and seeks to provide research guides for a growing number of countries. The foreign legal system guides often highlight the preeminent resources for accessing International and foreign cases. The information published by GlobaLex includes
    research and teaching resources that are used by many legal academics, practitioners, and other specialists from around the world. Scholars, well known in their respective fields, author articles about foreign jurisdictions in these comprehensive GlobaLex resources (nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/).
  • The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN): This public database contains official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources. GLIN membership and contributors are made up of governmental agencies and international organizations that share original-language, officially published, full-text documents in electronic format (glin.gov/search.action).
  • World LII: The World Legal Information Institute is a comprehensive resource for searching international case law. It is a “free, independent and non-profit global legal research facility” and was developed collaboratively by the following legal information institutes: Australasian, British, Irish, Canadian, Hong Kong, Cornell University, Pacific Islands, and the Wits University School of Law. This multi-jurisdictional website enables researchers to access all case law from national high courts or superior courts (worldlii.org).
  • The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLP): This database covers court decisions from England and Wales, as well as decisions from the Royal Courts of Justice and the European Court of Justice. Users can view daily case summaries by selecting the “Latest Cases” link at the top of the screen. Researchers can also perform a keyword search by selecting the “Subject Matter Search” link at the top of the screen. Readers can receive alerts and summaries of new decisions by selecting WLR (D) Alerts in the left margin. After registering, users receive email updates, at a frequency they choose, as soon as new case summaries are available online (icir.co.uk). The product catalogue includes The Law Reports, The Weekly Law Reports, The Industrial Cases Reports, The Business Law Reports, The Public and Third Sector Law Reports and The Consolidated Index.
  • EuroLex: This site provides free access to European Union law and other documents.
  • LegiFrance: This site includes all-inclusive French legislation and judicial decisions. Most resources are only available in French. LegiFrance does not publish English translations of the statutory materials. This service provides a user-friendly guide called “About Law” that discusses the organization of the French court system and judicial decisions (Legifrance.gouv.fr).
  • German Law Archive: This German law website includes full-text decisions of judgments and other decisions by German courts. It also compiled a large bibliography that “aims to include everything published on German law in English language,” and can be searched by author and title words. It is continuously updated and users can suggest new entries (iuscomp.org/gla/).

Relations among Nations

The legal process that concerns relations among nations is called international law. Belief and experience in some form of international law dates from at least the days of the Roman Empire. Such law differs greatly from national legal systems. No court has the authority or power to give judgments backed by coercive sanctions. Even in its most modern developments, international law is almost wholly based on custom. The precedents on which it rests are the acts of independent governments in their relations with one another, including treaties and conventions. Behind many of its rules is only a moral sanction: the public opinion of the civilized world. When treaties or conventions are involved, however, machinery to enforce them exists-either an arbitration or conciliation procedure or the submission of the dispute to a regional or international court.

A discernible body of rules and principles is observed or at least acknowledged in international relations. These rules concern such matters as territorial titles and boundaries, use of the high seas, limits on war, telecommunication, diplomatic and consular exchange, and use of air space. The major sources of international law on these matters are multilateral treaties, international custom, and such general principles as are recognized by civilized nations.

The United Nations is one of the primary mechanisms that articulate and create international law. The General Assembly and other agencies of the UN bring a combination of diplomacy, negotiation, and propaganda to bear on world affairs in ways that produce effective international treaties and affect world opinion. Certain courts also have indirect impact, including the International Court of Justice (see International Court of Justice, United Nations). Domestic courts in various nations at times also engage in the articulation of international law.” (4)

International Law in Constitutional Law

From the Comparative Constitutions Project: International law deals with the relationships between states, or between persons or entities in different states. It includes treaties and customary international law, sometimes called the “Law of Nations”

The Legal History of International Law

This section provides an overview of International Law history. (see also below)

International Law in the Past

Lassa Oppenheim, in the book entitled The Future of International Law, about International Law in the Past, wrote in 1921: 1. He who would portray the future of international law must first of all be exact in his attitude towards its past and present. International law as the law of the international community of states, such as is the present-day conception of it, is of comparatively modern origin. Science dutifully traces it back to Hugo Grotius as its father. In his immortal work on the Law of War and of Peace he, with masterly touch, focalizes(as it were) all the tendencies which asserted themselves during the latter half of the middle ages into a law between independent states, in such sort that all subsequent development goes back to him. Undoubtedly the roots of this law reach back into the remotest past of civilization, for independent states, nay, independent tribes too, cannot have more or less frequent dealings with each other without developing definite formstherefor. And so the immunity which must everywhere be conceded to ambassadors and heralds will probably be the oldest root of international law.

Difficulties Due to the Fact That International Law Cannot be Made by a Majority Vote, or Repealed Save by a Unanimous Vote

Lassa Oppenheim, in the book entitled The Future of International Law, about Difficulties Due to the Fact That International Law Cannot be Made by a Majority Vote, or Repealed Save by a Unanimous Vote, wrote in 1921: 39. A difficulty of a special kind besets international legislation, owing to the fact that international rules cannot be created by a majority vote, and that, when once in existence, they cannot be repealed save by a unanimous resolution.

Necessary to Consult Foreign Literature on International Law

Lassa Oppenheim, in the book entitled The Future of International Law, about Necessary to Consult Foreign Literature on International Law, wrote in 1921: 74. There is as yet scarcely any systematic reference to foreign literature on international law. Monographs may possibly cite the old editions of some wellnigh obsolete text-books, but, with individual laudable exceptions, there is scarcely any suggestion of the real utilization of foreign literature. This defect is, admittedly, to be attributed not so much to writers themselves as to the fact that foreign literature is for the most part inaccessible to them. There ought to be in every state at least one library which devotes especial attention to international law, and makes, on a well-elaborated plan, a judicious collection of foreign literature on the subject, particularly foreign periodicals.

International Legal Personality

International legal personality refers to the entities or legal persons that can have rights and
obligations under international law. Learn more about International legal personality here.

Sovereignty of States over Territory

Sovereignty is the exclusive right to exercise supreme political authority over a defined territory
(land, airspace and certain maritime areas such as the territorial sea) and the people within that
territory. No other State can have formal political authority within that State. Learn more about Sovereignty of States over Territory here.

Sources of international law (International Obligations)

It is generally accepted that the sources of international law are listed in the Article 38(1) of the
Statute of the International Court of Justice. Learn more about sources of international law (International Obligations) here.

Jurisdiction of States

This section covers mainly the Principles of Jurisdiction, and Immunities from Jurisdiction.

Principles Governing relations between States

The general principles governing friendly relations between States are set out in UN General
Assembly Resolution 2625. It states that the progressive development and codification of the
seven principles below would secure their more effective application within the international
community and would promote the realization of the purposes of the United Nations. Learn more about the principles governing relations between States here.

The Role of International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The International Court of Justice is the chief judicial organ of the United Nations. All members of the UN are automatically parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The jurisdiction of the ICJ in “contentious disputes” between States is subject to the principle of consent. It can obtain jurisdiction in three ways. Learn more about the International Court of Justice roles here.

Development

In any given society where people live together, conflicts of interests are bound to arise and there isalways need to do justice. Rules, therefore, present in all societies. They are necessary for order stability and peace because without them man would not know how he should behave. Such behaviour are called ‘laws’. As the relations of the individuals in a society are governed by municipal laws, therelations of sovereign states are governed by international laws. International law maintains stabilityamong the nations. It is in the interest of states themselves to agree a set of principles of rules of their relations with one another.

Nature and Functions of International Laws

International law means the law among the nations of the world. It is a law which governs the conductof the state interest. International law is the body of rules which defines and regulates the relations of states in the international society.International laws are frequent especially during the war periods. One of the biggest limitations of theinternational law is its enforcement. International Court of Justice has no power to enforce its judgements on the states. The states are free to obey or disobey the decisions given by the ICJ.Violations of international law are certainly frequent, especially, during the war periods. The states in breaking international law never deny its existence but interpret it in a way as to justify their actions.

According to Austin, every law must be backed by the authority of the state and if that element islacking, it cannot be called law. If this definition is applied to international law, it cannot be called lawin the true sense. There is no political authority over and above the states to enforce the rules of international law.Modern writers regard international law as true law. In spite of a number of weaknesses ininternational law, modern jurists do not deny its legal character and consider it as something binding.Public international law is commonly divided into the ‘Law of War’ and ‘Law of Peace’:

Law of Peace

Law of peace consists of the following:

  • Subjects of international law
  • Sources of international law
  • Rights and duties of states
  • Recognition of states and governments
  • State succession
  • State territory
  • Nationality
  • Treaties and agreements
  • Diplomatic immunities
  • Settlement of disputes

Law of War

War in some cases may be lawful. The purpose of laws of war is to eliminate violence.

Introduction to the Principles, Foundations, and Institutions of International Law

Find out, in this world legal encyclopedia, additional information relating to Introduction to the Principles, Foundations, and Institutions of International Law.

International Law

Embracing mainstream international law, this section on international law explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.

Resources

See Also

  • Law
  • Rule of Law
  • Law System
  • Legislation

Resources

Further Reading

  • The entry “international law” in the Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (currently, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009), Oxford University Press

Resources

Notes and References

  1. John Mo, International Commercial Law
  2. Information about International Law in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia
  3. Based on the Article “The Path of Internet Law: An Annotated Guide to Legal Landmarks”, by Michael L. Rustad and Diane DÂ’Angelo
  4. Information about International Law in the Encarta Online Encyclopedia

See Also

  • Legal Biography
  • Legal Traditions
  • Historical Laws
  • History of Law

Further Reading

Spanish Translation of international law

This is the legal translation of English to Spanish in relation to international law and / or a definition of this topic: Derecho Internacional (in Spanish, without translation of the dictionary entry).

Hierarchical Display of International law

Law > International law
International Relations > International affairs > International agreement
Law > Organisation of the legal system > Legal system > Courts and tribunals > International court
Politics > Political framework > Political power > Veto
International Relations > International affairs > International instrument
International Relations > International affairs > International instrument > Code of conduct
Finance > Taxation > Fiscal policy > Tax law > International tax law

International law

Concept of International law

See the dictionary definition of International law.

Characteristics of International law

Resources

Translation of International law

Thesaurus of International law

Law > International law > International law
International Relations > International affairs > International agreement > International law
Law > Organisation of the legal system > Legal system > Courts and tribunals > International court > International law
Politics > Political framework > Political power > Veto > International law
International Relations > International affairs > International instrument > International law
International Relations > International affairs > International instrument > Code of conduct > International law
Finance > Taxation > Fiscal policy > Tax law > International tax law > International law

See also

Hierarchical Display of International law

Law

International law

Concept of International law

See the dictionary definition of International law.

Characteristics of International law

Resources

Translation of International law

Thesaurus of International law

Law > International law

See also

  • Economist
  • Economics science researcher
  • Economics analyst
  • Business economist

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