Nature of International Law

Nature of International Law
• International law comprises a system of rules and principles that govern the international relations between sovereign states and other institutional subjects of international law. It operates alongside international diplomacy, politics and economics.
• The most cogent argument for the existence of international law as a system of law is that members of the international community recognise that there exists a body of rules binding upon them as law. States believe international law exists. This acceptance of the reality of international law by the very persons to whom it is addressed exposes the weakness of those who argue that international law does not exist.
• While international law has never been wholly dependent on a system of institutionalised enforcement, the absence of a ‘police force’ or compulsory court of general competence does not mean that international law is impotent.
• There is no doubt that a very important practical reason for the effectiveness of international law is that it is based on common self-interest and necessity. Today, international society is more interdependent than ever and the volume of inter-state
activity continues to grow. International law is needed in order to ensure a stable and
orderly international society.
• It would be a mistake to conclude that international law is a perfect system. There is
much that could be reformed and enhanced. There is a general lack of institutions; the
content of the rules of international law can be uncertain; states may elect to ignore
international law when their vital interests are at stake; states are able to violate basic
rules, such as the prohibition of violence without fear of being coerced.
• The juridical force of international law does not derive from a traditional conception
of law, nor is it based on consent, or derived from natural law. Its force comes from the fact that it is needed to ensure that international society operates...