international law

  

Definition

Body of legal rules governing interaction between sovereign states (Public International Law) and the rights and duties of the citizens of sovereign states towards the citizens of other sovereign states (Private International Law). Since there has never been a law making body for international law, it has been built up piecemeal through accords, agreements, charters, compromises, conventions, memorandums, protocols, treaties, tribunals, understandings, etc. The statute of the International Court Of Justice (judicial arm of the UN which has no enforcement power, and can adjudicate only where both sides agree to abide by its decisions) states the basis on which it adjudicates cases before it as "(a) international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; (b) international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law; (c) the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations." It is not 'World Law' but law between consenting sovereign states (each government can decide which law it will adhere to or not) and has not been able to solve the problems of inter-state aggression, conflict, terrorism, and war. Despite its limited applicability, however, it has played a vital role over the centuries in developing a system of procedures and rules in areas (such as air, land, sea, outer-space, human rights) where one state's existence impinges that of the others. The General assembly of the UN is entrusted with developing international law. Also called law of nations.

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