As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, lawyers encounter international legal issues in all aspects of their practice. Corporations, for example, move capital and labor supply chains across borders, while individuals cross international boundaries in search of better jobs or to escape restrictive totalitarian regimes. Even the field of admiralty and maritime law has become increasingly international in scope as countries share access to the oceans in order to facilitate trade. As a result, lawyers now confront international legal questions more often than ever before.
International law defines the legal responsibilities of States in their conduct with each other and in their treatment of individuals within State boundaries. It also regulates global commons such as the environment, sustainable development, international waters, outer space and world trade. More than 500 multilateral treaties have been deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and many other treaties are negotiated by governments and internationally organized bodies such as regional and ad hoc tribunals (such as the ICTY and ICTR).
There are a number of normative questions about the proper goals that international law should advance, or its domains (for instance, human rights law or environmental law), the means by which it may properly do so, and how the legitimacy of international law should be assessed. A recurring issue concerns the extent to which ethical-political standards fashioned for domestic law (for instance, democracy or the rule of law) can be applied to international law.