Definition of International Law
International law is a body of treaties and agreements between nations that governs how nations interact with one another, as well as the rights of people from other countries. International law is typically divided into two categories.
“Private international law” is a branch of public international law that addresses cases between private parties, such as individuals or corporations, who are involved in an extensive connection with more than one nation. Lawsuits related to the Bhopal gas leak at a Union Carbide industrial facility in India, which was originally based in the United States, would be considered matters of international private law.
The relationships between nations are referred to as “public international law.” These include norms of conduct, the laws of the sea, economic law, diplomatic law, environmental law, human rights law, and humanitarian legislation. Some principles of public international law are documented in treaties, while others are not. These are known as “customary” laws because nations consent to them by doing nothing.
Because international law is often governed by treaties, it is generally up to each nation to enforce the law. However, there are a few international organizations that enforce particular treaties. The United Nations, for example, is made up of 192 member states.
Terms to Know
- Ambassador: A government official who helps two countries communicate with each other.
- International Court of Justice: The United Nations’ judicial branch, which resolves territorial disputes and gives legal opinions on matters of international law.
- Interpol: The INTERPOL is an international collaboration of police organizations that work together to address global law.
- Security Council: The UN Security Council, for example, may use the threat assessment process to determine whether a particular scenario poses a security risk.
Practice Area Notes
Most individuals have never had to deal with international law. Those who do come into contact with international law are members of a company’s legal team or people seeking refuge from human rights abuses in countries where their lives are at risk.
However, even the most inexperienced person in the U.S. has a basic understanding of international law. Decisions on where and when to deploy US military forces are made in the shadow of worldwide treaties, and differences in safety standards between countries have an impact on many items sold in the United States market.
Related Practice Areas
- Business & Commercial Law: The legal framework in which the goods are produced, the ethical and safety standards of various processing plants, and trade rules are all influenced by international law.
- Environmental Law: As more countries learn that the actions of one nation may have a global impact, international environmental regulations become more vital.
- Civil Rights: The United States provides a wide range of rights and freedoms to its citizens that other countries do not provide to theirs. Refugees from harsh totalitarian regimes around the globe attempt to come to the United States to avoid deadly situations at home.
- Admiralty & Maritime Law: To facilitate trade, the nations must share the use of the sea. As a result, admiralty law is concerned with how to deal with foreign vessels.