The UN Charter is not the only source of international law. Since World War II, countries have signed numerous agreements covering all kinds of topics. From the most mundane issues to more serious ones, international law has something for everyone. The four Geneva Conventions, which protect war victims, were first signed in 1864 and took effect in 1949, and the fifth was adopted in 1970. Besides the UN Charter, the International Law Commission also promotes the development and codification of international law.
Among the most important treaties and principles of international law are the Hague Conventions, which essentially grant countries free rein in their internal affairs. Some European nations oppose this approach, believing that human rights should be guaranteed to all nations. Yet, most nations observe at least some of these international obligations. In other words, even when a nation has an unaccountable record of human rights violations, it’s still a sign of a civilized society if it has universal norms governing its behavior.
In addition to states, international law has also influenced societies around the world. For example, the Islamic Holy See and the Maltese Order have both been subject to international law. Their legal systems have recognized sovereign status, immunity from invasion, jurisdiction, and membership in international organisations. And even before Islam began to be a dominant force in Western society, Islamic legal thought had already spread throughout Europe, India, and South Asia. Moreover, Islamic legal thought had governed hostilities as early as the seventh century.