What Is International Law?


Whether you’re new to international law or a seasoned expert, there’s always something new to learn about it. It’s a set of rules that states recognize as binding and establishes normative guidelines for nations across broad domains.

Public international law

Traditionally, public international law concerns issues that arise in state-to-state relations. However, today, these issues have expanded into the global commercial arena. As a result, scholars have had to develop conceptual frameworks to explain how international laws apply to such situations.

The development of public international law in the 15th century witnessed the confluence of many factors, including the introduction of the printing press, which spurred the development of notions of individual rights, humanism, and science. In addition, the formation of centralized states like Spain and France brought wealth and trade. These states required more sophisticated rules to govern their internal affairs.

In the modern era, treaties have become the primary source of public international law. In the 20th century, treaties were expanded to include intellectual property, environmental protection, humanitarian law, and criminal law.

As a result of its increasing importance, public international law has become a significant feature in international commerce. In addition to international trade, the international legal system can also regulate global communications, the conduct of hostilities, and the management of global commons.

The United Nations Charter establishes the International Court of Justice, or ICJ, a deliberative organ of the UN. The ICJ has the authority to adjudicate violations of the UN Charter.

Customary international law

Despite the importance of customary international law, its precise meaning is often elusive. This article explores the peculiar doctrinal aspects of this legal genre and some of the constraints on states’ recourse to it.

A critical aspect of customary international law is the concept of opinion Juris. This is a term commonly used to describe a law that can be applied without prior state or public approval. This rule is based on a state’s beliefs, assumptions, and actions. The law can be either written or unwritten.

The law is usually derived from a treaty or a convention. However, this is not necessarily a sign of state apathy, as many states recognize that treaties represent a form of international law. The US Constitution teaches that treaties are a part of “the supreme law of the land.”

In addition to being a source of international law, customary international law has significant consequences for the rule of law. It gives weight to the conduct of actors in the international arena. It can also be used to hold renegade states accountable.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been criticized for its definition of customary international law. Nevertheless, the ICJ has ruled that some standard rules are as binding as international conventions.

The International Criminal Court

Located in The Hague, Netherlands, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent international Court. It prosecutes crimes against humanity and war crimes. It differs from the International Court of Justice, which settles state disputes.

The Court has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes of aggression, and other serious crimes committed by citizens of ICC member states. It can also investigate crimes that the United Nations Security Council has referred to. The Court is divided into a Judicial Division and a Registry.

The Judicial Division includes the Office of the Prosecutor. It is tasked with investigating and prosecuting crimes referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. It is supervised by Fatou Bensouda.

Contributions from member states finance the ICC. The amount payable by each state is based on the size of its economy and population. A single country’s maximum contribution is 22% of the Court’s budget. The most significant contributors are Germany and France. In addition, some governments offer voluntary contributions.

The ICC’s budget stood at $170 million in 2021. An Assembly of States Parties govern it. Members are elected to three-year terms. In addition, two vice presidents are elected by judges.

The Assembly of States Parties is a management oversight body. It is composed of one representative from each state party. It must reach a consensus on all decisions.