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International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct from the term " unit of observation ...

nation
s. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework for states across a broad range of domains, including war, diplomacy, trade, and human rights. International law aims to promote the practice of stable, consistent, and organized international relations. The
sources of international law International law also known as "law of nations" is the name of a body of rules which regulate the conduct of sovereign states in their relations with one another. EditingSources of international law include treaties, customary international law, in ...
include international custom (general state practice accepted as law),
treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relati ...
, and general principles of law recognized by most national legal systems. International law may also be reflected in international comity, the practices and customs adopted by states to maintain good relations and mutual recognition, such as saluting the flag of a foreign ship or enforcing a foreign legal judgment. International law differs from state-based
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influ ...
s in that it is primarily—though not exclusively—applicable to countries, rather than to individuals, and operates largely through consent, since there is no universally accepted authority to enforce it upon
sovereign states A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relation ...
. Consequently, states may choose to not abide by international law, and even to break a treaty. However, such violations, particularly of customary international law and peremptory norms (''
jus cogens Jus may refer to: Law * Jus (law) __NOTOC__ ''Ius'' or ''Jus'' (Latin, plural ''iura'') in ancient Rome was a right to which a citizen (''civis'') was entitled by virtue of his citizenship (''civitas''). The ''iura'' were specified by laws, so ...
''), can be met with coercive action, ranging from military intervention to diplomatic and economic pressure. The relationship and interaction between a national legal system (
municipal law Municipal law is the national, domestic, or internal law of a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French ''souverain'', which is ultimately derived from t ...
) and international law is complex and variable. National law may become international law when treaties permit national jurisdiction to supranational tribunals such as the
European Court of Human Rights European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European Court of Human Rights
or the
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizatio ...

International Criminal Court
. Treaties such as the
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish internatio ...
may require national law to conform to treaty provisions. National laws or constitutions may also provide for the implementation or integration of international legal obligations into domestic law.


Terminology

The term "international law" is sometimes divided into "public" and "private" international law, particularly by civil law scholars, who seek to follow a Roman tradition. Roman lawyers would have further distinguished ''
jus gentium The ''ius __NOTOC__ ''Ius'' or ''Jus'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throu ...
'', the law of nations, and ''
jus inter gentes ''Jus inter gentes'', is the body of treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, no ...
'', agreements between nations. On this view, "public" international law is said to cover relations between nation-states and includes fields such as
treaty law The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) is an international agreement regulating treaties between states. Known as the "treaty on treaties", it establishes comprehensive rules, procedures, and guidelines for how treaties are defined ...
,
law of sea Admiralty law or maritime law is a body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by ...
,
international criminal law International criminal law is a body of public international law designed to prohibit certain categories of conduct commonly viewed as serious atrocities and to make perpetrators of such conduct criminally accountable for their perpetration. The co ...
, the
laws of war The law of war is the component of international law that regulates the conditions for initiating war (''jus ad bellum'') and the conduct of warring parties (''jus in bello''). Laws of war define sovereignty and nationhood, states and territor ...
or
international humanitarian law International humanitarian law (IHL), also referred to as the laws of armed conflict, is the law that regulates the conduct of war ('' jus in bello''). It is a branch of international law International law, also known as public international la ...
,
international human rights law International human rights law (IHRL) is the body of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It est ...
, and
refugee law Refugee law is the branch of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidel ...
. By contrast "private" international law, which is more commonly termed "
conflict of laws Conflict may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * Conflict (1936 film), ''Conflict'' (1936 film), an American boxing film starring John Wayne * Conflict (1938 film), ''Conflict'' (1938 film), a French drama film directed by L ...
", concerns whether courts within countries claim jurisdiction over cases with a foreign element, and which country's law applies. When the modern system of (public) international law developed out of the tradition of the late medieval ''ius gentium,'' it was referred to as ''the law of nations,'' a direct translation of the concept ''ius gentium used'' by
Hugo Grotius Hugo Grotius (; 10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645), also known as Huig de Groot () and in Dutch as Hugo de Groot (), was a Dutch humanist, diplomat, lawyer, theologian, jurist, poet and playwright. A teenage intellectual prodigy, he was bor ...

Hugo Grotius
and ''droits des gens'' of
Emer de Vattel Emer (Emmerich) de Vattel ( 25 April 171428 December 1767) was an international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nat ...

Emer de Vattel
. The modern term ''international law'' was invented by
Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates">O.S._4_February_1747.html" ;"title="Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.html" ;"title="nowiki/>Old Style and New Style dates">O.S. 4 February 1747">Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates.htm ...

Jeremy Bentham
in 1789 and established itself in the 19th century. A more recent concept is "
supranational lawSupranational law is a form of international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guide ...
", which concerns regional agreements where the laws of nation states may be held inapplicable when conflicting with a supranational legal system to which the nation has a
treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relat ...

treaty
obligation. Systems of supranational law arise when nations explicitly cede their right to make certain judicial decisions to a common tribunal. The decisions of the common tribunal are directly effective in each party nation, and have priority over decisions taken by national courts. The
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
is most prominent example of an international treaty organization that implements a supranational legal framework, with the
European Court of Justice European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European Court of Justice
having supremacy over all member-nation courts in matter of
European Union law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union. Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community following World War II, the EU has developed the aim to "promote peace, its values and ...
. The term "transnational law" is sometimes used to a body of rules of
private law Private law is that part of a civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as ...
that transcend the nation state.


History

The origins of international law can be traced back to
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

antiquity
. Among the earliest examples are peace treaties between the
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
n city-states of
Lagash Lagash (cuneiform: LAGAŠKI; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Lagaš''), or Shirpurla, was an ancient city state located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, ...

Lagash
and
Umma Umma ( sux, ; in modern in , formerly also called Gishban) was an ancient city in . There is some scholarly debate about the Sumerian and Akkadian names for this site. Traditionally, Umma was identified with Tell Jokha. More recently it h ...
(approximately 2100 BCE), and an agreement between the Egyptian pharaoh
Ramses II Ramesses II ( egy, wikt:rꜥ-ms-sw, rꜥ-ms-sw meaning "Ra is the one who bore him", ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', ; ) was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful ...
and the Hittite king, Hattusilis III, concluded in 1258 BCE. Interstate pacts and agreements of various kinds were also negotiated and concluded by
polities A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between ind ...
across the world, from the eastern Mediterranean to East Asia.
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, which developed basic notions of governance and international relations, contributed to the formation of the international legal system; many of the earliest peace treaties on record were concluded among the Greek city-states or with neighboring states. The
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
established an early conceptual framework for international law, ''jus gentium'' ("law of nations"), which governed both the status of foreigners living in Rome and relations between foreigners and
Roman citizens Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its c ...
. Adopting the Greek concept of
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
, the Romans conceived of ''jus gentium'' as being universal. However, in contrast to modern international law, the Roman law of nations applied to relations with and between foreign individuals rather than among political units such as states. Beginning with the
Spring and Autumn period #REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dyna ...
of the eighth century BCE, China was divided into numerous states that were often at war with each other. Subsequently, there emerged rules for diplomacy and treaty-making, including notions regarding the just grounds for war, the rights of neutral parties, and the consolidation and partition of states; these concepts were sometimes applied to relations with "barbarians" along China's western periphery beyond the Central Plains. The subsequent
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
saw the development of two major schools of thought,
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
and Legalism, both of which held that the domestic and international legal spheres were closely interlinked, and sought to establish competing normative principles to guide foreign relations. Similarly, the Indian subcontinent was characterized by an ever-changing panoply of states, which over time developed rules of neutrality, treaty law, and international conduct. Embassies both temporary and permanent were established between states to maintain diplomatic relations, and relations were conducted with distant states in Europe and East Asia. Following the
collapse of the western Roman Empire The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome), c. 376-476, was the process of decline in the Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman ...
in the fifth century CE, Europe fragmented into numerous often-warring states for much of the next five centuries. Political power was dispersed across a range of entities, including the
Church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building) A church building, church house, or simply church, is a building used for Christian worship services and other Christian religious activities. The term is usually used to refer to the p ...

Church
, mercantile city-states, and kingdoms, most of which had overlapping and ever-changing jurisdictions. As in China and India, these divisions prompted the development of rules aimed at providing stable and predictable relations. Early examples include
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
, which governed
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor Hans Morgenthau believed international law to be the weakest and most primitive system of law enforcement; he likened its decentralised nature to the law that prevails in preliterate tribal societies. Monopoly on violence is what makes domestic law enforceable; but between nations, there are multiple competing sources of force. The confusion created by treaty laws, which resemble private contracts between persons, is mitigated only by the relatively small number of states. For example, it is unclear whether the Nuremberg trials created new law, or applied the existing law of the Kellogg-Briand pact. Morgenthau asserts that no state may be compelled to submit a dispute to an international tribunal, making laws unenforceable and voluntary. International law is also unpoliced, lacking agencies for enforcement. He cites a 1947 US opinion poll in which 75% of respondents wanted "an international police to maintain world peace", but only 13% wanted that force to exceed the US armed forces. Later surveys have produced similar contradictory results.Morgenthau pp 281, 289, 324.


See also

* Natural law * List of International Court of Justice cases * List of international public law topics * List of treaties * Lex Junia Licinia, Consular law * Arbitration * Anarchy (international relations) * Aviation law and Space law * Centre for International Law (CIL) * Commissions of the Danube River * Comparative law * Conference of the parties * Conflict of laws * Diplomatic law and Diplomatic recognition * Environmental agreements * Global administrative law * Global policeman * Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies *
International Law Commission The International Law Commission (ILC) is a body of experts responsible for helping develop and codify international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards gen ...
* International litigation * International community * International constitutional law *
International Law Commission The International Law Commission (ILC) is a body of experts responsible for helping develop and codify international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards gen ...
* International regulation * Internationalization of the Danube River * INTERPOL * Martens Clause * Law * Prize law * Refugee law * Speaking truth to power * Space law * Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) * UNIDROIT * United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee (Legal) * University for Peace * The European Institute for International Law and International Relations * ''Pacta sunt servanda'' (agreements are to be kept) * Roerich Pact * Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project (RULAC)


Notes


References

* I Brownlie, ''Principles of Public International Law'' (7th edn, Oxford University Press, 2008) * Dominique Carreau, Droit international, Pedone, 10e édition, 2009 . * Pierre-Marie Dupuy, P.-M. Dupuy & Y. Kerbrat, "Droit international public" (10th ed., Paris, Dalloz, 2010) * * * M. N. Shaw, ''International Law'' (5th ed Cambridge University Press 2003) * Rafael Domingo Osle, ''The New Global Law'' (Cambridge University Press 2010) * Giuliana Ziccardi Capaldo, “The Pillars of Global Law” (Ashgate 2008) *Hans Kelsen, ''Peace Through Law'' (1944) * David L. Sloss, Michael D. Ramsey, William S. Dodge (2011) ''International Law in the U.S. Supreme Court'', 0521119561, ISBN 978-0-521-11956-6 Cambridge University Press * Rafael Domingo Osle and John Witte, Jr., eds, ''Christianity and Global Law'' (Routledge, 2020) * * *


External links


United Nations Rule of Law
the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
' centralised website on the rule of law
UNOG Library Legal Research Guide

Centre for International Law (CIL), Singapore

International law overview

Department of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Primary Legal Documents Critical to an Understanding of the Development of Public International Law

Public International Law as a Form of Private Ordering

The European Institute for International Law and International Relations

Public International Law – Resources


With cases and commentary. Nathaniel Burney, 2007.

* [http://www.graduateinstitute.ch/law Department of Public International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva]
American Society of International Law – Resource Guide (Introduction)



International Law Observer – Blog dedicated to reports and commentary on International Law

Official United Nations website

Official UN website on International Law

Official website of the International Court of Justice

Opinio Juris – Blog on International Law and International Relations

United Nations Treaty Collection

UN – Audiovisual Library of International Law


* [http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=bryan_druzin Public International Law as a Form of Private Ordering]
Public International Law, Research Guide
Peace Palace Library
UNOG Library – Legal Research Guide
{{Authority control International law, International trade law Public law, International International relations Cultural globalization