National Law and International Human Rights

National law is the set of laws that govern a country, its citizens and visitors. It is made by federal legislators and interpreted by courts to enforce it.

The United States, for example, has a long history of passing laws that protect human rights. These include the National Labor Relations Act, which encourages collective bargaining and protects employees’ freedom of association.

These statutes help promote business by encouraging friendly adjustments in industrial disputes and preventing the retaliation of employees for asserting their rights. The right of employees to organize and bargain collectively safeguards commerce, enhances economic efficiency and reduces social strife, especially in the private sector.

In some countries, international human rights law automatically becomes part of national law when a state ratifies or accedes to the treaty. Other systems require the State to adopt legislation to give the provisions of a treaty domestic legal effect.

Another way in which international rights can be implemented at the national level is through the adoption of international standards into municipal law. This practice is known as direct incorporation.

Whether or not a state incorporates international rights and norms into its municipal law is a debated issue. Dualists argue that international law and municipal law are separate and independent legal systems, while monists believe that municipal law is subservient to international law.

In the Netherlands, for example, international human rights law automatically becomes part of its national law as soon as it is incorporated into its legal system. This is because Dutch courts construe treaties and orders of international organizations in accordance with national constitutional law, so that the international treaties and the international offices of international organizations are converted into national law.

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