The Importance of International Law

international law

Although the concept of international law has largely originated in the West, scholars from outside the Western world have shown the importance of contributions from other cultures. African countries, for example, have been known to have international treaties for at least three thousand years. Islamic legal thought is also present in many parts of Asia and Europe, and there have been legal regulations for hostilities since the seventh century. As we learn more about international law, we can better understand its roots and the many branches of the profession.

Treaties and conventions are agreements made between countries and are the basis of international law. They give signing parties the authority to enforce agreements, and their adherence to the rules of the agreement lays down the rules for the behavior of the other party. Conventions generally contain mechanisms to enforce compliance, such as economic sanctions and threats of military action. For example, the Kyoto Protocol imposed strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries. These agreements, however, are not legally binding on all states.

As a result, if one state violates another’s international law, other states may be tempted to break the same rules and thereby undermine the value of the entire system. But there are many exceptions to this rule, and many examples of such a situation are common. International law also provides a common framework and procedures for international interaction. By defining what is permissible, international law allows people of different nations to work together to achieve their shared goals.

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