What is International Law?

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Set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations. International Law serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations. International law differs from state-based legal systems. International law is primarily applicable to countries than to private citizens. International Law is consent-based governance - a state member of the international community is not obliged to abide by this type of international law, unless it has expressly consented to a particular course of conduct.

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What is International Law?

  1. 1. By Arundathie Abeysinghe  Lecturer  International Aviation Academy  SriLankan Airlines Arundathie Abeysinghe  1
  2. 2.    What is International Law? Set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations International Law serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations Arundathie Abeysinghe 2
  3. 3.    International law differs from state-based legal systems International law is primarily applicable to countries than to private citizens International Law is consent-based governance - a state member of the international community is not obliged to abide by this type of international law, unless it has expressly consented to a particular course of conduct Arundathie Abeysinghe 3
  4. 4. Public International Law Law that governs the relations between or among nations Private International Law Concerns disputes between private parties in which the laws, jurisdiction or court judgments of more than one jurisdiction or country are implicated Arundathie Abeysinghe 4
  5. 5. Article 38 of the International Court of Justice statute states:  1. The Court, whose function is to decide in accordance with international law such disputes as are submitted to it, shall apply:  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. General principles of law recognized by civilized nations;  d. subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination of rules of law Arundathie Abeysinghe 5
  6. 6. “Consists of rules of law derived from the constant conduct of states acting out of the belief that the law required them to act that way”  Because there are no international “laws”, per se, countries instead behave as if there were laws to require them to behave, a certain way Arundathie Abeysinghe 6
  7. 7.      State practice Opinio juris Acts taken by a significant number of states and not rejected by a number of states Second element (along with state practice) necessary to establish a legally binding custom (Opinio juris denotes a subjective obligation, a sense on behalf of a state that it is bound to the law in question) Arundathie Abeysinghe 7
  8. 8.     An agreement in written form between nation-states or international agencies, e.g. the United Nations Intended to establish a relationship governed by International Law May be contained in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments e.g. an exchange of diplomatic notes Various terms are used for such an agreement: treaty, convention, protocol, declaration, covenant, pact, act, charter, exchange of notes, statute, agreement, modus vivendi (manner of living or practical compromise) and understanding Arundathie Abeysinghe 8
  9. 9.  Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties defines a treaty as: “an international agreement concluded between states in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation” Definition applies to treaties, international conventions, international agreements, covenants, final acts, charters, protocols, pacts, accords and constitutions for international organizations   Arundathie Abeysinghe 9
  10. 10. 1. 2. For an international convention to enter into force it has to be negotiated and formally adopted at an International Conference It has to be signed at the time of adoption and then opened for ratification by the State Parties Ratifications are generally deposited at the Secretariat of the United Nations m Arundathie Abeysinghe 10
  11. 11.   Purpose of ratification is to ensure that the government has examined the implications of the obligations in the convention and has determined that it is in a position to comply with them Ratification is the process by which a particular State becomes a State Party bound by the Convention Arundathie Abeysinghe 11
  12. 12.   Ratification is also the process necessary for the convention to enter into force and become International Law The convention itself will generally provide for the minimum number of ratifications necessary for the convention to come into force Arundathie Abeysinghe 12
  13. 13.    After signing the convention, States must take into consideration the domestic requirements before ratifying the convention The procedure to ratify an international convention differs from country to country In every country ratification involves consideration by the Legislature, in addition to consultations among various government departments and other stake holders Arundathie Abeysinghe 13
  14. 14.   Countries can express "reservations, understandings and declarations" in cases where there are discrepancies between the international convention and domestic law Conventions deposited with the Secretary-General represent the expressed desire of the international community to establish rights and obligations among themselves and are bound by an international rule of law Arundathie Abeysinghe 14
  15. 15.    Implementation of an international convention domestically depends on the domestic legal system of each country A State could be categorized either as a monist state or a dualist state with regard to the implementation of international conventions domestically Monists assume that internal and international legal systems form a unity Arundathie Abeysinghe 15
  16. 16.    In most monist states, a distinction between international law in the form of treaties, and other forms of domestic law is not made In such states International Law does not need to be translated into national law for the purpose of application within the domestic territory and international law is immediately incorporated into the national legal system In monist states, International Law can be directly applied by the domestic courts, and can also be directly invoked by citizens, as if it were national law Arundathie Abeysinghe 16
  17. 17.    This is different in dualist states Dualist states emphasize the difference between national and international law and require the translation of the latter into the former Without this translation, International Law does not exist as law within the domestic or municipal legal system Arundathie Abeysinghe 17
  18. 18. Arundathie Abeysinghe 18

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