A law, or not a law. That is the question.

That International Law was created to bind civilized states is now an acceptable principle, for the realm it covers is the conduct of states with respect to each other in their interrelations. But what is a state? When is an entity fit to be considered a state? Is it necessary for other states to recognize a state for it to be one? How many recognizing states are enough to make an entity a state?

These questions strike at the very root of international law. It doesn’t help that divergent practices tend to colour our minds – while on the one hand, Andorra, Lichtenstein and Monaco are all deemed states, while Kosovo, Palestine and Scotland are not considered thus. It is hard to answer this – especially because of the role of vested interests and politics, two factors that obliterate the notion of anarchy and level-playing-fields in international relations.

International Law has often been brought into question – especially as to whether it is a law or not. No matter what arguments maybe advanced in an attempt to punch holes in its existence, the fact is that international law exists: whether in its observations in obedience or in its observations in breach, whether in that states try to justify their conduct in keeping with the law or its interpretation, rather than questioning its existence. That new ‘legal provisions’ under international law are a product of breaches of old ones, is not an acceptable basis to denounce its status as law. After all, human rights laws have evolved by breaching early practices that encouraged the violations of basic human rights, best examples being slavery and torture.  

One may argue that a body of legal rules can come into existence only when it is legislated by a legislative body, executed by an executive body and studied and interpreted by a judicial body from time to time. These elements are not entirely absent in international law. The UN makes for a fairly close attempt. The General Assembly is akin to a legislature. The Security Council, the executive wing, and the International Court of Justice forms the judiciary. In addition to this system are several other international organizations that handle different aspects of state conduct and streamlines them through a legal document (or more) of its own.

It may appear like International Law is a prerogative of those in power – there are states that participate in creating the legal order, but subvert it themselves. Though it may appear like this knocks the wind out of the sails of its status as a law, in truth, it remains to be a law – quite like how legislators aren’t necessarily obedient to the laws they make.

 

 

Views: 99

Tags: International, Law

Comment

You need to be a member of Global Ethics Network to add comments!

Join Global Ethics Network

Carnegie Council

AI in the Arctic: Future Opportunities & Ethical Concerns, with Fritz Allhoff

How can artificial intelligence improve food security, medicine, and infrastructure in Arctic communities? What are some logistical, ethical, and governance challenges? Western Michigan's Professor Fritz Allhoff details the future of technology in this extreme environment, which is being made more accessible because of climate change. Plus he shares his thoughts on some open philosophical questions surrounding AI.

The Ethical Algorithm, with Michael Kearns

Over the course of a generation, algorithms have gone from mathematical abstractions to powerful mediators of daily life. They have made our lives more efficient, yet are increasingly encroaching on our basic rights. UPenn's Professor Michael Kearns shares some ideas on how to better embed human principles into machine code without halting the advance of data-driven scientific exploration.

Fighting ISIS Online, with Asha Castleberry-Hernandez

National security expert Asha Castleberry-Hernandez discusses what "ISIS 2.0" means and how the terrorist group has used social media to recruit and spread its message. How has its strategy changed since the death of its leader Abur Bakr al-Baghdadi? What can the U.S. military, Congress, and executive branch do better to fight the group online?

SUBSCRIBE TODAY

VIDEOS

SUPPORT US

GEO-GOVERNANCE MATTERS

© 2019   Created by Carnegie Council.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service


The views and opinions expressed in the media, comments, or publications on this website are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Carnegie Council.