International law is a set of rules generally accepted and regarded as binding in associations between nations and states. Unlike other areas of law, it does not have any governing body or defined area instead, it refers to varied and many rules, customs and laws that govern and impact legal dealings between different states/ nations and their businesses, organizations and governments to include responsibilities and rights of such dealings.
It differs from legal systems that are state based in that it is applicable to countries and not private citizens. International law encompasses a set of agreements, customs, accords, protocols, charters, legal precedents, memorandums and tribunals of international court of justice.
Since it does not have any unique enforcing, governing entity, international law is a voluntary endeavor where the enforcement power exists when parties adhere and abide by agreement. Because different countries have different legal systems and applicable histories, international law addresses both civil and common law. This covers all national law facets and also includes substantive remedies, law and procedure.
‘International law’ is a term used to refer to 3 distinct legal areas which include:
- Public international law-This governs relations between international entities and states. It includes different legal fields which include: law of sea, treaty law, international humanitarian law or laws of war as well as international human rights law.
- Supranational law o law of supranational organizations- This is concerned with regional agreements where laws of nation states are held inapplicable when they conflict with supranational legal systems when a nation has an obligation treaty with a collective supranational.
- Conflict or private international law-Which addresses the questions of which jurisdiction should hear a case as well determining the jurisdiction to which the issues of any case should be directed.
There are different types of international law and they are as highlighted below:
Public international law
This concerns treaty relations between nations and persons considered subject to international law. They have their source in:
- Customary or custom international law
- Behavior standards that are globally acceptable
- Codifications which are contained in conventional agreements also termed as treaties.
Private international law
Private international law is also known as ‘conflict laws’ in civil jurisdictions. It is distinguishable from international public law because it governs conflicts that arise between private individuals and not states. It concerns the jurisdiction that should be allowed to hear legal disputes between private parties and the jurisdiction the law should be applicable.
While there is no body that governs international law, the UN is viewed as the most influential and recognized international organization and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is its counterpart.
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