Although international law has many positive attributes, it is not without controversy. Questions about its effectiveness and relevance often arise, particularly when powerful nations attempt to ‘bend’ the law. As a result, the focus of debate has shifted from whether international law is really law to whether international norms matter. This gap between international law and IR theory has been narrowing for some time, and liberal approaches to IR acknowledge the importance of norms in shaping state preferences and international cooperation.
Historically, international law only applied to states. Eventually, though, the concept of international law was broadened to include other countries, such as the Holy See and the Maltese Order. Developing nations were unable to freely accede to international law rules, and the Western world was more likely to provide incentives to these countries. Eventually, these legal arrangements expanded to encompass almost every domain of international law, including the rights and duties of individuals, corporations, and other non-state actors.
The ICC’s jurisdiction over contentious cases is based on the consent of the states involved. There is no centralized international police force and no supreme executive authority. Nonetheless, if a state refuses to abide by an ICC ruling, the Prosecutor must notify all relevant states of the case. However, a state can assert its superior right of jurisdiction and block the ICC from proceeding. Additionally, the U.N. Security Council can block ICC proceedings by passing a positive resolution. The prohibition will last for one year. The Prosecutor must then evaluate whether to proceed with an investigation. The Pre-Trial Chamber then determines whether to issue warrants and orders.