Let’s discuss International Law

What is international law?

International Law, also known as Public International Law and Law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide states across a broad range of domains, including war, diplomacy, trade, and human rights. International law aims at the practice of stable, consistent, and organised international relations.

Sources of International Law

  • Customary law
  • Treaties
  • General principles of law
  • International comity

States may choose not to be bound by International Law and even to break a treaty.

Settling disputes between nations

The key judicial organ of the United Nations is the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  This main body of the UN settles legal disputes submitted to it by States in accordance with international law.  It also gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it from authorised UN organs and specialised agencies. The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of nine years by the General Assembly and the Security Council.

Other courts related to international law include: the International Criminal Court, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and there are also international tribunals.

Tips and methods to get into practcing International law

  • Pursue an LLM or PhD specialising in the topic
  • Find an internship in international institutions or courts that deal with relevant issues
  • Find an area of public international law that you would like to specialise in and look at which law firms deal with those relevant issues
  • Attend academic law events about the topics related to the area you want to specialise in and establish relevant connections
  • Learn a language. International law is no longer dominated by English and French, and knowledge of other languages can be very helpful

Topics covered under International law (as a module or in a masters programme)

  • The general assembly & multilateral treaties
  • Development and codification of international law
  • International humanitarian law
  • Judicial settlement of disputes
  • International criminal justice

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