What is international law?
International law is a set of rules and norms which govern human behaviour across the borders of nation states. There are a few basic rules of international law. The major sources of international law are treaty and custom. Treaties are the agreements between nation states to abide by certain obligations and responsibilities in relation to other nationstates. Custom is the rules which have become commonplace in the intercourse of international relations and have become commonly accepted as a rule of international law. There are also some soft sources of international law such as the case law of the international court of justice. There is also the case law of the World Trade Organisation which provides guidance even though it is not binding on subsequent decisions of the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement body. There is actually an enormous range of international and although the media picture international law is that it is largely unenforceable and meaningless there are actually a lunch number of elements of international law which have a direct bearing on everyday life at least in modern developed countries. The international laws which created the International telecommunications union allows a global standard to be created for international telecommunications which means that you able to make a phone call to a foreign country also the laws which created the international postal union allow for postal services to be harmonised across the globe meaning it is possible to send a letter of overseas. Naturally there are other areas of international which are not nearly as easy to predict in the ability to enforce. For instance there was an enormous tectonic shift in the understanding of international law of self defence during the Bush administration’s negotiations with other UN member states. The United States sought to assert that international law was not applicable or at least that there was a doctrine of international law which allowed for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq because of the existence of weapons of mass destruction. Obviously the evidence for the existence of weapons of mass destruction was not supported as these weapons were never found when Iraq was invaded. this is often cited as an example of where a powerful state in the international system can simply overrun the customs and rules of international law to suit its own political purposes and seriously undermine the legitimacy of international law. It is examples like this which makes the United Nations also seem useless.
There are also areas of international law which are applicable to international commerce and trade the rules of the World Trade Organisation govern trade between nationstates in a way that is supposed to support the movement free-trade around the world by reducing subsidies and tariffs as well as important quotas and some quarantine protections. There is also the field of private international law which relates to the way that the law of a particular countries are chosen to apply to a legal problem. The law of the sea regulates the world’s fisheries and to some extent the way in which shipping is allowed to operate in the world’s oceans. All of these aspects of international law can have a significant bearing on large commercial organisations. If you have a international legal problem you can chat to a lawyer online now or post your query to the contact form to the right, We are more than happy to hear from you.