People Innovation Excellence

International Law

International Law


International Law is the body of legal rules and norms that regulates activities carried on beyond the legal boundaries of a single state.

International Law deals with three kinds of International Relationships:

  1. Those between states and states
  2. Those between states and persons
  3. Those between persons and persons

There are at least three ways of looking at international law:

  • Cosmopolitans: Claim that international law is based on universal human rights, and the consent of a state is irrelevant.
  • Positivist: Focus on the sovereignty of states and their consent to limits on that sovereignty
  • Hobbesians: More cynical, believing that states will make agreements and abide by international law only when it suits their self-interests.

Under Positivist principles, international law comes into effect only when states consent to it.

The particular consent of a state to be bound by an international law can be found in the declarations of its government, in its domestic legislation, in its court decisions, and in the treaties (both bilateral and multilateral) to which it is a party.

The making of International Law

Within states, law is made by legislatures, courts, and other agencies of government. At the international level, no formal lawmaking machinery exists. In working together, the different states in the international community function in the roles of both lobbyist and legislators.

The Hierarchy of the source relied on by the International Court of Justice

  1. International Conventions
  2. International Custom
  3. General Principles of Law
  4. Judicial decisions and teacings of publicists.


August, Ray, Mayer, Don, and Michael Bixby, International Business Law. Text, Cases and Readings. Pearson, 2013.

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LS-S2 | IBM | Bina Nusantara University
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