A common understanding of law is that from a dictionary that defines law as the rules established by authority, society, or custom. Law also encompasses the body that imposes the enforcement and control or authority. International law is governed by Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (or ICJ) lists the source that the court is permitted to use. The ICJ looks at 3 main sources of international law:
- Treaties and conventions
- General principles
- Discuss your understanding of treaties and conventions.
- What are some common customs that you have encountered based on your own experiences? How do you believe these customs differ from those in other countries? Provide examples.
- General principles are those that are common to both (or all) the state parties to a dispute. What issues may arise when an issue involves entities from different countries? How could these differences be resolved?
Week 2 Discussion: International Law
In terms of International law, treaties are agreements that are legally binding by nature between two states (Hakimi, 2020, p.20). In legal terms, a treaty can be called a protocol or even an agreement. It is through the contents of the agreement, that a treaty is classified rather than its name. Therefore examples of treaties include the Geneva Protocol and the Biological Weapons Convention even though the name treaty is not present in either of them. US law considers a treaty a legally binding agreement between two countries, which can be accepted by the government only if it has the ratification as well as the “advice and consent” from the Senate. The negotiation regarding treaties needs to be done by a group of countries. This can be done through an organization set up for this specific purpose, or through the United Nations (UN) Council for Disarmament.
International conventions are formal agreements that are formulated between two countries and are elements of International law. These agreements are binding on the countries that are parties to these conventions. Treaties which are named Conventions have their negotiations done in the purview of international organizations. These international organizations include the UN General Assembly and the International Labor Organisation. International conventions fall under the category of treaties formulated between two countries.
One of the most common customs that I have encountered in my experience is the practice of shaking hands, in all settings where there is a transaction of respect. If an individual goes for an interview then it is common practice for them to shake hands with their superior in the setting. Handshake is also a necessary custom when someone meets another individual for the first time so that the interaction is set up in the right tone. These customs are different in other countries such as India and Pakistan. In India, the custom is to fold hands and do a Namaste when people enter a setting where there is a transaction of respect, while in Pakistan they do a hand gesture of bringing their right hand towards their face in an inward manner. They call this aadab. In this manner, the customs differ in different countries.
General Principles are defined as norms that are agreed on by the majority of the nations (Thirlway, 2019, p.24). They are also applicable in most jurisdictions like doctrines of good faith, estoppel, and equity. The issues that generally arise in international law when entities of different countries are involved include those related to the matter of jurisdiction, law and foreign judgments regarding several issues. These issues need to be resolved through discussion, amongst the various parties to compromise and prioritize the benefit of the citizens associated with the different parties. These discussions should take place under the purview of a fair and unbiased organization.
Hakimi, M. (2020). Making sense of customary international law. Michigan Law Review, 118.
Thirlway, H. (2019). The sources of international law. Oxford University Press.