Friday, September 22

The Basic Concepts of International Law

International law can be broadly classified into three types: public international law, the law of nations, and international ethics. In general, international law is a set of standards and rules recognized as binding among nations. As such, it is a crucial subject for anyone interested in international affairs. Listed below are some basic concepts of international law. Each type of law is distinguished by its specific principles and application. In addition, international law has many sub-types that differ from one another.


International law is a system of rules that govern the interaction of subjects engaged in international relations. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, international law is “law pertaining to nations,” whereas municipal law applies to the laws of states or communities. The modern concept of international law evolved from the political and economic arrangements in Renaissance Europe and the Cold War. Globalisation, however, has brought about more pluralism and diversity, which have shaped the field of international law.

The origins of international law go back to the discovery of America. The concept of international law suggests that each nation is not a moral universe of its own, but instead is morally bound by fundamental principles. Thus, nations do not enjoy the freedom to act in a manner inconsistent with these principles. Thus, international law has emerged in an embryonic form, which argues that the basic principles of civilized societies apply to states. This is also true for the laws of war.

In the Middle Ages, the concept of natural law was instilled with religious principles, such as the Ten Commandments. By the 15th century, the printing press had fueled the growth of humanism, science, and notions of individual rights. European exploration also posed new challenges for scholars. The formation of centralized states like France and Spain meant more ambition and wealth. Thus, more complex rules were needed. Hugo Grotius’ De jure belli ac pacis is widely regarded as the foundational text of international law.

Until the early nineteenth century, the only subjects subject to international law were sovereign states. Later, however, international organizations such as the Holy See were recognized as relevant parties. Today, corporations and individual citizens can also be considered as subjects of international law. The core principles of international law are enshrined in the UN Charter and the UNGA Resolution of 1970. This article provides a brief overview of these concepts. There is no comprehensive list of the sources of international law.


The principle of equality of peoples is a fundamental human right that is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Every people has the right to determine their political status and pursue social and economic development. As such, every state is required to protect this right. A violation of this principle entails subjugation. It also violates the principle of non-interference, which states must respect. And no state may engage in civil strife in another country.

General principles may not exist, depending on the context. They may serve a gap-filling function or constitute an inchoate custom. However, the lack of clarity about their function and nature has prevented systematic engagement with these principles in constitutionalist accounts. Using the momentum of the constitutionalisation debate to re-open the debate on the nature and function of general principles. Listed below are some of their most important functions.

International law is a system of laws outside of the legal orders of particular states. The UN General Assembly, which is made up of representatives from 190 countries, has the appearance of a legislature, and its resolutions serve as recommendations. They also decide on the UN budget and admit new members to the UN. Furthermore, the UN Security Council is responsible for electing judges to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

A fundamental principle of international law is the separation of powers. The concept of nation states was first established in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, wherein sovereign states agreed to non-interference in each others’ domestic affairs. This concept evolved rapidly with the emergence of complex relations and the spread of empires throughout the Middle East. For example, the United States and the Soviet Union have recognized one another as sovereign states. Those are two of the most fundamental principles of international law.


The sources of international law are various and can be categorized into three major categories. These include the treaties and laws of states and international organizations. Another category of international law is the practice of international organizations. Examples of these entities are the United Nations and its resolutions. Though not specifically mentioned as a source of international law, they are often referred to as such. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the sources of international law before trying to define it.

Treaties and conventions are persuasive sources of international law. They are commonly considered “hard law” and are legally binding upon the parties to them. These sources can be contracts between two parties, legislation governing international relations, or the constitutions of international organizations. Regardless of which category a party belongs to, these documents contain some form of legal obligation. As such, Article 38 of the ICJ Statute refers to international conventions and treaties as sources of contractual obligation. However, it is important to note that a state may expressly accept the obligations of treaties without becoming a member.

Another source of international law is the use of general principles. These are generally accepted norms recognized in the international order. They are commonly referred to as ‘general principles of law’ and may be derived from an overarching group of laws. However, they are often difficult to distinguish from the general principles of law. They include such concepts as good faith and the protection of trust. The ICJ has also regularly referred to general principles of law as a source of international law.

International law is a synthesis of various sources. The ICJ’s Statute identifies three formal sources of international law: general principles of law, international custom, and international conventions. Each source contributes to the development of international law. For example, a rule is only considered legal if it derives from at least one of the three sources. But even if these three sources are not the sole sources, international law is still an important part of human life.

Principles of application

The principles of application of international law can be broken down into two types: general and particular. General principles embody consensus on the broadest level and provide no specific instruction on how to address specific issues. By contrast, specific principles would provide more specific guidance. In addition, general principles are subject to considerable doctrinal debate and controversy. In this article, we will focus on the distinction between these two kinds of principles and their application in various contexts.

General principles of law differ from specific rules in domestic and international legal systems. These general principles fill in the gaps left by a lack of a centralized judiciary and legislative body. Thus, they are typically identified on a case-by-case basis, guided by the requirements of the international legal system. The most important distinction between general principles and specific principles is whether they are based on objective facts or require a judicial determination.

The fundamental purpose of international law is to promote peace and stability by providing means to resolve disputes. Although international law is not a world legislature, it does require means to bring violations to the attention of the international community. In some instances, it has been interpreted to include judicial tribunals or quasi-judicial tribunals. The United Nations has provided means to enforce international law. The Security Council is a great example of this.

Other international law sources are critical. For example, the Friendly Relations Declaration says that an intervention is not a violation of international law unless the country is attempting to change its government or policy. Likewise, the Oppenheim Declaration defines intervention as interference with the affairs of another state. Among other things, it recognizes the rights of a state to choose its constitution, organize its administration, and use its legislature. This principle was recently confirmed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of Nicaragua.

Recent developments

The International Criminal Court has been under fire recently. Early enthusiasm has waned after a former Ivory Coast president was found not guilty of crimes against humanity. A recent case concerning the alleged genocide of the Rohingya people has attracted the most media attention. The case involves the question of whether genocide can be proved through evidence. A number of States Parties have kept their purse strings tight and are questioning whether the International Criminal Court is worth the money.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) activated jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, making individual leaders liable. This is a significant step for international law, which has traditionally not recognized individuals as victims of aggression. But recent developments may force the system to change its approach. The activation of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, for example, may open the door for victims to participate in prosecutions and receive reparations. That change in international law is a welcome step toward a more equal and just world.

Historically, international law began as a national tradition. Through the colonial expansion of the European powers, international law began to be truly international. In the first decades after World War II, however, international law took on new dimensions as a result of the creation of scores of independent states. With these developments, the global nature of international law has broadened, introducing a diverse range of cultural backgrounds and political interests. Today, international law is an increasingly important field in American legal practice.

The International Law Commission, set up in 1947 by the General Assembly, promotes the progressive development of international law and its codification. It is comprised of 34 members representing the principal legal systems in the world. Members of the commission serve as experts in their own capacity and do not represent their respective governments. They address issues of international law and consult with UN specialized agencies. They develop drafts on specific aspects of international law. This article will examine some of the recent developments in international law.