Public international law

International law, also known as national public international law, is a system of legal rules, norms and standards applicable between sovereign states and other entities legally recognized as international actors. The word was coined by the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham .

Definition and scope

According to Bentham’s classic definition, international law is a collection of rules governing relations between states. This initial definition omits individuals and international organizations, which are the two most dynamic and important elements of modern international law, marking how far international law has developed. In addition, it is no longer correct to regard international law as just a collection of rules; on the contrary, it is a rapidly developing complex of rules and influences, although they do not directly constrain principles, practices and claims, and the structure and process are increasingly complex. In the broadest sense, international law provides the language of normative guidelines, methods, mechanisms and common concepts for international actors, mainly sovereign states, but also more and more international organizations and individuals. The range of subjects and actors directly related to international law has greatly expanded beyond classic issues such as war, peace and diplomacy, including human rights, economic and trade issues, space law and international organizations. Although international law is a legal order, not a moral norm, it is greatly influenced by moral principles and concerns, especially in the field of human rights.

International law is different from international comity, which includes non binding practices adopted by States out of politeness (for example, saluting the flag of a foreign warship at sea). In addition, the study of international law or public international law differs from the field of conflict of laws or private international law, which deals with the rules of municipal law, because international lawyers refer to the domestic laws of different countries as foreign laws. Participate.

International law is a legal system independent of the legal order of a specific country. It differs from the domestic legal system in many ways. For example, although the general assembly, which is composed of representatives of some 190 countries, has the appearance of a legislature, it has no right to issue binding laws. On the contrary, its resolutions serve only as recommendations, but in certain circumstances and within the United Nations system for certain purposes (such as the establishment of the United Nations budget, the admission of new members of the United Nations, and the election of new judges by the International Court of justice of the United Nations with the participation of the Security Council). Similarly, there is no court system with comprehensive jurisdiction in international law. The court’s jurisdiction over undisputed cases is based on the consent of the particular state concerned. There is no international police force or perfect law enforcement system, and there is no supreme administrative organ. The United Nations Security Council may authorize the use of force to compel states to comply with their decisions, but only in specific and limited circumstances; in essence, there must be pre emptive acts of aggression or the threat of such acts. In addition, any such enforcement action can be vetoed by the five permanent members of the Council (China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States). Since there is no standing United Nations force, the forces involved must be temporarily assembled from Member States.

International law is a unique part of the general structure of international relations. When considering the response to a particular international situation, states usually consider relevant international law. While considerable attention has always been focused on violations of international law, states are usually careful to ensure that their conduct is in accordance with the rules and principles of international law, because otherwise the international community will take a negative attitude towards its conduct. Rules of international law are rarely enforced by military means or even economic sanctions. Instead, the system is supported by reciprocal or enlightened self-interest. The decline in the credibility of countries that violate international rules may lead to bias in future relations with other countries. Therefore, a state’s violation of a treaty in a way beneficial to its interests may lead to the violation of other treaties by other states, thus causing harm to the original violator. In addition, there is a general recognition that continued violations of the rules will jeopardize the value that the system brings to States, international organizations and other actors. This value lies in certainty, predictability and a sense of common purpose in international affairs, which stems from the existence of a set of rules accepted by all international actors. International law also provides a framework and a set of procedures for international interaction, as well as a set of general concepts for understanding international application.

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