international law

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international law,

body of rules considered legally binding in the relations between national states, also known as the law of nations. It is sometimes called public international law in contrast to private international law (or conflict of lawsconflict of laws,
that part of the law in each state, country, or other jurisdiction that determines whether, in dealing with a particular legal situation, its law or the law of some other jurisdiction will be applied.
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), which regulates private legal affairs affected by more than one jurisdiction.

Nature and Scope

International law includes both the customary rules and usages to which states have given express or tacit assent and the provisions of ratified treatiestreaty,
in international law, formal agreement between sovereign states or organizations of states. The term treaty is ordinarily confined to important formal agreements, while less formal international accords are called conventions, acts, declarations, or protocols.
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 and conventions. International law is directly and strongly influenced, although not made, by the writings of jurists and publicists, by instructions to diplomatic agents, by important conventions even when they are not ratified, and by arbitral awards. The decisions of the International Court of JusticeInternational Court of Justice,
principal judicial organ of the United Nations, established 1946 by chapter 14 of the UN Charter. It superseded the Permanent Court of International Justice (see World Court), and its statute for the most part repeats that of the former tribunal.
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 and of certain national courts, such as prizeprize,
in maritime law, the private property of an enemy that a belligerent captures at sea. For the capture of the vessel or cargo to be lawful it must be made outside neutral waters and by authority of the belligerent.
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 courts, are considered by some theorists to be a part of international law. In many modern states, international law is by custom or statute regarded as part of national (or, as it is usually called, municipal) law. In addition, municipal courts will, if possible, interpret municipal law so as to give effect to international law.

Because there is no sovereign supernational body to enforce international law, some older theorists, including Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf, and John Austin have denied that it is true law. Nevertheless, international law is recognized as law in practice, and the sanctions for failing to comply, although often less direct, are similar to those of municipal law; they include the force of public opinion, self-help, intervention by third-party states, the sanctions of international organizations such as the United Nations, and, in the last resort, war.

National states are fundamentally the entities with which international law is concerned, although in certain cases municipal law may impose international duties upon private persons, e.g, the obligation to desist from piracypiracy,
robbery committed or attempted on the high seas. It is distinguished from privateering in that the pirate holds no commission from and receives the protection of no nation but usually attacks vessels of all nations.
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. New rights and duties have been imposed on individuals within the framework of international law by the decisions in the war crimes trials as well as the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (see war crimeswar crimes,
in international law, violations of the laws of war (see war, laws of). Those accused have been tried by their own military and civilian courts, by those of their enemy, and by expressly established international tribunals.
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), by the genocidegenocide,
in international law, the intentional and systematic destruction, wholly or in part, by a government of a national, racial, religious, or ethnic group. Although the term genocide was first coined in 1944, the crime itself has been committed often in history.
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 convention, and by the Declaration of Human Rights (see Economic and Social CouncilEconomic and Social Council,
constituent organ of the United Nations. It was established by the UN Charter and has 54 (18 before 1965) member nations elected for three-year terms (one third every year) by the General Assembly.
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).

See also international relationsinternational relations,
study of the relations among states and other political and economic units in the international system. Particular areas of study within the field of international relations include diplomacy and diplomatic history, international law, international
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.

Evolution of International Law

Beginnings

There was little scope for an international law in the period of ancient and medieval empires, and its modern beginnings coincide, therefore, with the rise of national states after the Middle Ages. Rules of maritime intercourse and rules respecting diplomatic agents (see diplomatic servicediplomatic service,
organized body of agents maintained by governments to communicate with one another. Origins

Until the 15th cent. any formal communication or negotiation among nations was conducted either by means of ambassadors specially appointed for a
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) soon came into existence. At the beginning of the 17th cent., the great multitude of small independent states, which were finding international lawlessness intolerable, prepared the way for the favorable reception given to the De jure belli ac pacis [concerning the law of war and peace] (1625) of Hugo GrotiusGrotius, Hugo
, 1583–1645, Dutch jurist and humanist, whose Dutch name appears as Huigh de Groot. He studied at the Univ. of Leiden and became a lawyer when 15 years old. In Dutch political affairs Grotius supported Oldenbarneveldt against Maurice of Nassau.
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, the first comprehensive formulation of international law. Though not formally accepted by any nation, his opinions and observations were afterward regularly consulted, and they often served as a basis for reaching agreement in international disputes. The most significant principle he enunciated was the notion of sovereignty and legal equality of all states. Other important writers on international law were Cornelius van BynkershoekBynkershoek, Cornelius van
, 1673–1743, Dutch writer on international law. His De dominio maris [on the rule of the seas] (1702, tr. 1923) is a classic on maritime law, and he also wrote on diplomatic rights and, in Quaestiones juris publici
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, Georg F. von MartensMartens, Georg Friedrich von
, 1756–1821, German writer on international law, b. Hamburg. He was professor of international law at Göttingen (1783–89), a state councilor of Westphalia (1808–13), and the representative of the king of Hanover in the diet of
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, Christian von WolffWolff or Wolf, Christian von
, 1679–1754, German philosopher. One of the first to use the German language instead of Latin, he systematized and popularized the doctrines of Leibniz.
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, and Emerich VattelVattel, Emerich de
, 1714–67, Swiss philosopher and jurist. He served (1746–58) as Saxon minister at Bern and later in the cabinet of Augustus III at Dresden.
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.

Development to World War I

The growth of international law came largely through treaties concluded among states accepted as members of the "family of nations," which first included the states of Western Europe, then the states of the New World, and, finally, the states of Asia and other parts of the world. The United States contributed much to the laws of neutralityneutrality,
in international law, status of a nation that refrains from participation in a war between other states and maintains an impartial attitude toward the belligerents. Neutrality is not to be confused with neutralism, or nonalignment, under international law.
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 and aided in securing recognition of the doctrine of freedom of the seas (see seas, freedom of theseas, freedom of the,
in international law, the principle that outside its territorial waters (see waters, territorial) a state may not claim sovereignty over the seas, except with respect to its own vessels.
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). The provisions of international law were ignored in the Napoleonic period, but the Congress of Vienna (see Vienna, Congress ofVienna, Congress of,
Sept., 1814–June, 1815, one of the most important international conferences in European history, called to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon I.
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) reestablished and added much, particularly in respect to international rivers and the classification and treatment of diplomatic agents. The Declaration of Paris (see Paris, Declaration ofParis, Declaration of,
1856, agreement concerning the rules of maritime warfare, issued at the Congress of Paris. It was the first major attempt to codify the international law of the sea.
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) abolished privateering, drew up rules of contrabandcontraband,
in international law, goods necessary or useful in the prosecution of war that a belligerent may lawfully seize from a neutral who is attempting to deliver them to the enemy. The term is sometimes also applied to the goods carried into a country by smuggling.
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, and stipulated rules of blockadeblockade,
use of naval forces to cut off maritime communication and supply. Blockades may be used to prevent shipping from reaching enemy ports, or they may serve purposes of coercion. The term is rarely applied to land sieges.
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. The Geneva Convention (1864) provided for more humane treatment of the wounded. The last quarter of the 19th cent. saw many international conventions concerning prisoners of warprisoner of war,
in international law, person captured by a belligerent while fighting in the military. International law includes rules on the treatment of prisoners of war but extends protection only to combatants.
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, communication, collision and salvagesalvage,
in maritime law, the compensation that the owner must pay for having his vessel or cargo saved from peril, such as shipwreck, fire, or capture by an enemy. Salvage is awarded only when the party making the rescue was under no legal obligation to do so.
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 at sea, protection of migrating bird and sea life, and suppression of prostitution. Resort to arbitrationarbitration, industrial,
method of settling disputes between two parties by seeking and accepting the decision of a third party. Arbritration differs from mediation in that the arbritrator does not attempt to find a compromise acceptable to the two parties, but decides in favor
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 of disputes became more frequent. The lawmaking conventions of the Hague ConferencesHague Conferences,
term for the International Peace Conference of 1899 (First Hague Conference) and the Second International Peace Conference of 1907 (Second Hague Conference). Both were called by Russia and met at The Hague, the Netherlands.
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 represent the chief development of international law before World War I. The Declaration of London (see London, Declaration ofLondon, Declaration of,
international code of maritime law, especially as related to war, proposed in 1909. The declaration grew largely out of the attempt at the second of the Hague Conferences to set up an international prize court with compulsory jurisdiction.
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) contained a convention of prize law, which, although not ratified, is usually followed. At the Pan-American Congresses, many lawmaking agreements affecting the Western Hemisphere have been signed.

Effect of the World Wars

In World War I, no strong nations remained on the sidelines to give effective backing to international law, and the concept of third party arbitration was again endangered; many of the standing provisions of international law were violated. New modes of warfare presented new problems in the laws of war, but attempts after the war to effect disarmament and to prohibit certain types of weapons (see war, laws ofwar, laws of,
in international law, rules and principles regulating an armed conflict between nations. These laws are designed to minimize the destruction of life and property, to proscribe cruel treatment of noncombatants and prisoners of war, and to establish conditions under
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) failed, as the outbreak and course of World War II showed. The end of hostilities in 1945 saw the world again faced with grave international problems, including rectification of boundaries, care of refugees, and administration of the territory of the defeated enemy (see trusteeship, territorialtrusteeship, territorial,
system of UN control for territories that were not self-governing. It replaced the mandates of the League of Nations. Provided for under chapters 12 and 13 of the Charter of the United Nations, the trusteeship system was intended to promote the welfare
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). The inadequacy of the League of NationsLeague of Nations,
former international organization, established by the peace treaties that ended World War I. Like its successor, the United Nations, its purpose was the promotion of international peace and security.
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 and of such idealistic renunciations of war as the Kellogg-Briand PactKellogg-Briand Pact
, agreement, signed Aug. 27, 1928, condemning "recourse to war for the solution of international controversies." It is more properly known as the Pact of Paris. In June, 1927, Aristide Briand, foreign minister of France, proposed to the U.S.
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 led to the formation of the United NationsUnited Nations
(UN), international organization established immediately after World War II. It replaced the League of Nations. In 1945, when the UN was founded, there were 51 members; 193 nations are now members of the organization (see table entitled United Nations Members).
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 as a body capable of compelling obedience to international law and maintaining peace. After World War II, a notable advance in international law was the definition and punishment of war crimeswar crimes,
in international law, violations of the laws of war (see war, laws of). Those accused have been tried by their own military and civilian courts, by those of their enemy, and by expressly established international tribunals.
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. Attempts at a general codification of international law, however, proceeded slowly under the International Law Commission established in 1947 by the United Nations.

Recent Developments

The nuclear age and the space age have led to new developments in international law. The basis of space lawspace law,
agreements governing the exploration and use of outer space, developed since the first launching (1957) by humans of a satellite into space. Space law, an aspect of international law, has grown under the aegis of the United Nations.
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 was developed in the 1960s under United Nations auspices. Treaties have been signed mandating the internationalization of outer space (1967) and other celestial bodies (1979). The 1963 limited test ban treaty (see disarmament, nucleardisarmament, nuclear,
the reduction and limitation of the various nuclear weapons in the military forces of the world's nations. The atomic bombs dropped (1945) on Japan by the United States in World War II demonstrated the overwhelming destructive potential of nuclear weapons
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) prohibited nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater. The nuclear nonproliferation treaty (1968) attempted to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. The agreements of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, signed by the United States and the USSR in 1972, limited defensive and offensive weapon systems. This was first of many international arms treaties signed between the two nations until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Other treaties have covered the internationalization of Antarctica (1959), narcotic interdiction (1961), satellite communications (1963), and terrorism (1973). The Law of the Sea treaty (1982, in force from 1994) clarified the status of territorial waters and the exploitation of the seabed. Environmental issues have led to a number of international treaties, including agreements covering fisheries (1958), endangered species (1973), the ozone layer (1987 and 1992), biodiversity (1992), and global warming (1992 and several subsequent years). Since the signing of the General Agreement on Tariffs and TradeGeneral Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT), former specialized agency of the United Nations. It was established in 1948 as an interim measure pending the creation of the International Trade Organization.
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 (GATT) in 1947, there have been numerous international trade agreements. The European Union (prior to 1993, the European Community) has made moves toward the establishment of a regional legal system; in 1988 a Court of First Instance was established to serve as a court of original jurisdiction on certain economic matters. The establishment of the International Criminal Court (2002), with jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and related matters, marked a major step forward in international law despite the United States' repudiation of the treaty under President George W. Bush.

Bibliography

For a collection of texts by early writers, see J. B. Scott, ed., Classics of International Law (12 vol., 1911–27). See also H. Lauterpacht, International Law: The Law of Peace (4 vol., 1970–78); A. D'Amato, International Law (1987); L. Henkin et al., International Law (2d ed. 1987); R. A. Falk, Revitalizing International Law (1989); D. P. Moynihan, The Law of Nations (1990).

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