Why Is International Law Binding

The law of the sea is the domain of international law with respect to the principles and rules by which States and other entities interact in ocean affairs. [33] It covers areas and issues such as navigation rights, marine mineral rights and responsibility for coastal waters. The law of the sea differs from admiralty law (also known as the law of the sea), which concerns the relations and conduct of private entities at sea. In international law, a treaty is any legally binding agreement between states (countries). A treaty can be called a convention, protocol, pact, agreement, etc.; It is the content of the agreement, not its name, that makes it a treaty. Thus, both the Geneva Protocol and the Biological Weapons Convention are treaties, although neither has the word “treaty” in its name. Under U.S. law, a treaty is, in particular, a legally binding agreement between countries that requires ratification and “deliberation and approval” by the Senate. All other agreements (treaties in the international sense) are called executive agreements, but are nevertheless legally binding on the United States under international law. Since international law exists in a legal environment without a global “sovereign” (i.e., an external power capable and willing to uphold international norms), the “application” of international law is very different from the national context. In many cases, law enforcement takes on Coasian characteristics, with the standard being self-reinforcing. In other cases, going beyond the norm can pose a real risk, especially if the international environment changes.

If this happens, and if enough States (or enough powerful States) constantly ignore a certain aspect of international law, the norm may in fact change according to the concepts of customary international law. For example, before World War I, unfettered submarine warfare was considered a violation of international law and supposedly a casus belli for the U.S. declaration of war on Germany. However, during World War II, the practice was so widespread that during the Nuremberg Trials, charges against German Admiral Karl Dönitz were dropped for ordering unrestricted submarine warfare, even though the activity was a clear violation of the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936. In contrast, positivist writers such as Richard Zouche (1590-1661) in England and Cornelis van Bynkershoek (1673-1743) in the Netherlands argued that international law should be derived from actual state practice rather than christian or Greco-Roman sources. The study of international law has moved away from its fundamental concern for martial law to areas such as the law of the sea and commercial treaties. The positivist school used the new scientific method and in this respect was in line with the empiricist and inductive approach to philosophy that was then established in Europe. The field of international law covers a wide range of issues of international concern, such as human rights, disarmament, international crime, refugees, migration, nationality issues, the treatment of prisoners, the use of force and war, among others.

Modern legal positivists regard international law as a uniform system of rules based on the will of States. International law, as it stands, is an “objective” reality that must be distinguished from law “as it should be”. Classical positivism requires rigorous tests of legal validity and considers all extra-legal arguments irrelevant. [56] Morgenthau argues that no state should be forced to submit a dispute to an international tribunal, rendering the laws unenforceable and voluntary. Nor is international law controlled and has no enforcement powers. He cites a 1947 U.S. opinion poll in which 75 percent of respondents wanted “an international police force to maintain world peace,” but only 13 percent wanted that force to surpass U.S. forces. Subsequent investigations led to equally contradictory results.

[61] States recognize that treaties and customary international law are sources of international law and, as such, binding. This is provided for, for example, in the Statute of the International Court of Justice. An example of the binding nature of customary international law is its application by national and international courts. International law is one of the fundamental elements of the United Nations system. It forms the basis for stable, peaceful and just relations between States and their peoples. This week, we will look at what international law is. Elements of the naturalist and positivist schools were synthesized, mainly by the German philosopher Christian Wolff (1679-1754) and the Swiss jurist Emerich de Vattel (1714-67), both of whom sought common ground in international law. During the 18th century, the positivist tradition gained wider acceptance, although the concept of natural rights remained influential in international politics, particularly through the Republican revolutions of the United States and France. It was not until the 20th century that natural rights took on increased importance in international law. Although States (or increasingly international organizations) are generally the only ones empowered to deal with a violation of international law, some treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, have an optional protocol that allows individuals whose rights have been violated by member States to petition the International Human Rights Committee.

Investment treaties generally and regularly provide for enforcement by individuals or investment companies. [54] and trade agreements between foreigners and sovereign governments can be applied at the international level. [55] Although there is no preponderant authority to apply such rules, international law is considered binding on States by States, and it is this fact that gives these rules the status of law. For example, if a State wishes to avoid a particular rule, it will not argue that international law does not exist, but only that States have not agreed that such a rule should be binding on them or that the rule does not apply to particular circumstances. Since international law has not established a mandatory judicial system to settle disputes or a coercive penal system, it is not as simple as dealing with violations within a national legal system. However, there are ways to bring violations to the attention of the international community and some ways to resolve them. For example, there are judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals in international law in certain areas such as trade and human rights. The establishment of the United Nations, for example, has created a means for the international community to apply international law against members who violate its Charter through the Security Council. If a contract does not contain any provision for other agreements or measures, only the text of the contract is legally binding. In general, an amendment to a treaty is binding only on those States that have ratified it, and agreements reached at review conferences, summits or meetings of States parties are politically binding, but not legally. An example of a treaty that contains provisions for other binding agreements is the Charter of the United Nations. By signing and ratifying the Charter, countries have agreed to be legally bound by resolutions adopted by United Nations bodies such as the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Therefore, UN resolutions are legally binding on UN member states and no signature or ratification is required. The most important judicial organ of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This principal organ of the United Nations settles disputes submitted to it by States in accordance with international law. It also advises on legal matters referred to it by authorized united Nations bodies and specialized agencies. .