International Law refers to the set of rules that are generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations. It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations. In the United Nations, one of their primary goals is the development of International Law. The main objective in the Preamble is ‘to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.’
International Law defines the legal responsibilities of States in their conduct with each other, and their treatment of individuals within State boundaries. Its area encompasses a wide range of international concerns such as human rights, disarmament, international crimes, refugees, migration, problems of nationality, treatment of prisoners, the use of force, and the conduct of war, among others. In addition, it regulates the global commons like the environment, sustainable development, international waters, outer space, global communications, and world trade.
There are three distinct legal disciplines regarding the International Law:
1. Public International Law
This one governs the relationship between states and international entities. It includes legal fields like treaty law, law of sea, international criminal law, the laws of war or international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and refugee law. The norms of this law have their source in either: custom or customary international law; globally accepted standards of behavior; and codifications contained in conventional agreements, generally termed treaties. Under Article 13 of the United Nations Charter, it obligates the UN General Assembly to initiate studies and make recommendations that will encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification.
2. Private International Law or Conflict of Laws
This law governs conflicts between private persons and addresses the question of which jurisdiction should be permitted to hear a legal dispute between private parties, and which jurisdiction’s law should be applied, thus raising the issues of international law. The prominent example of this case is related in today’s businesses. Nowadays, businesses are capable of shifting capital and labor supply chains across borders and trading with overseas corporations. However, there are increasing number of disputes of inter-state nature outside a unified legal framework, and raises the issues of the enforceability of standard practices.
3. Supranational Law or the Law of Supranational Organizations
It refers to treaty law made in and between sovereign states. Law is defined as ‘a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority.’ On the other hand, sovereign is defined as ‘supreme power or authority.’ It is concerned with regional agreements where the laws of nation states may be held inapplicable when conflicting with a supranational legal system, especially when that nation has a treaty obligation to a supranational collective.