International law is a set of rules that govern behavior among states. The Geneva Conventions of 1899 and 1949, for instance, limit state behavior during war. In addition to these conventions, many other treaties have been passed to establish bodies that regulate state behavior. Most countries follow the provisions of these international obligations. In addition, there are a variety of international conventions that govern the rights of civilians during war.
The most common definition of international law refers to a collection of rules governing the relations of states and individuals within them. These rules regulate the use of force, the creation and dissolution of states, and the conduct of armed conflict. Some states may consider these rules binding, but others may disagree. They may argue that international law does not exist or does not apply to their particular circumstances.
There are a number of specialized bodies in international law that work to make international law more accessible to people. The United Nations Security Council, for example, is charged with maintaining international peace, and has the power to impose sanctions on states that violate international law. In addition, the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in the Netherlands, is responsible for prosecuting war crimes and other crimes.
The development of international law dates back to the 15th century, when a convergence of forces led to its development. Greek scholars from the Byzantine Empire and the printing press helped shape the field. Additionally, the emergence of centralized European states, such as France, challenged scholars to create conceptual frameworks to govern their behavior. These developments also led to the development of more complex rules. Some scholars believe that the De jure Belli ac pacis is the foundational text of international law.