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Article

State responsibility can be examined from the moral, legal, and political perspectives. Historically, state responsibility was the subject of extensive work by the International Law Commission, which was carried out over 40 years (1956–2001). While the Commission’s work was terminated in 2001 with no binding conventions or treaties resulting from it, many of its final articles have become references in international and domestic tribunals. However, the Commission was unable to establish obligatory arbitration between states, to agree on penalties for international crimes, or to establish any formal legal structure with which to oversee legal state responsibility. Differences between domestic jurisdiction and international jurisdiction limit definitive, formal legal state responsibility. The United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) all deal with state responsibility, but all reflect, to different extents the role of international politics in state responsibility. The permanent members of the UN Security Council have veto power. All United Nations member states are members of the ICJ. However, only 74 of them recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ and the ICC tries individuals, not states. The use of “illegal but legitimate” to justify military intervention in the Balkans was an example of how states creatively avoid following the legal limits of their responsibility. The decision of the ICJ in the Nicaragua v. United States case also showed the importance of the role of politics in a judicial process and the difficulties of defining the limits of a state’s responsibilities. The very question of state responsibility in international politics reflects the importance of states and interstate international politics. States are the primary subjects of international law. However, issues such as climate change and the environment go beyond mere state responsibility and push the boundaries of the statist paradigm to larger global responsibilities erga omnes as well as actors above and below the state levels.

Article

Kathleen Barrett

Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice lists “international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law” as the second source of law to be used by the Court. In other words, customary international law (CIL) requires state practice and opinio juris, the belief that the practice is legally required. A basic principle of international law is that sovereign states must consent to be bound by international legal requirements. Therefore, for a norm to become CIL, a widespread group of states must consistently follow the norm and indicate, either explicitly or implicitly, that they consent to the norm. Consistent action is important in two ways: consistent state practice following the norm indicates state consent to be bound by the norm and consistent objection to the norm indicates that the state does not consent to the norm. To avoid being bound by a rule of CIL, a state must persistently object to the rule during and after its formation. Changing CIL requires new state practice and evidence that opinio juris supports the new, not the old, state practice. Debates surrounding state practice include the number of states required to demonstrate “widespread” action, whether the states must be representative of the community of states, and how long consistent practice must occur before CIL is formed. Opinio juris is debated because it is subjective unless there is a specific, official statement that there is a belief that the practice is legally required. Once a state consents, implicitly or explicitly, to a CIL rule, it cannot withdraw that consent. States that gain independence after a CIL rule is established are bound by that rule if the former government was not a persistent objector. This is problematic, particularly for former colonies that were not able to object during the formation of existing CIL rules because they were not considered “sovereign states.” Scholars supporting this perspective argue that, prior to decolonization, CIL was used to control the colonies and, since their independence, it is used by the colonizers to maintain their power and perpetuate inequality.

Article

International Law (IL) is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations. It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations (IR). International law differs from state-based legal systems in that it is primarily applicable to countries rather than to private citizens. National law may become international law when treaties delegate national jurisdiction to supranational tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court. The immense body that makes up international law encompasses a piecemeal collection of international customs; agreements; treaties; accords, charters, legal precedents of the International Court of Justice (aka World Court); and more. Without a unique governing, enforcing entity, international law is a largely voluntary endeavor, wherein the power of enforcement only exists when the parties consent to adhere to and abide by an agreement. This is where IR come about; it attempts to explain behavior that occurs across the boundaries of states, the broader relationships of which such behavior is a part, and the institutions (private, state, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental) that oversee those interactions. Explanations can also be found in the relationships between and among the participants, in the intergovernmental arrangements among states, in the activities of multinational corporations, or in the distribution of power and control in the world as a single system.

Article

Domestic courts play an important role in the adjudication of international law, including international human rights law. The relationship between international and domestic law has often been characterized as a continuum between monism and dualism. In a monist system, international law is automatically a part of domestic law, and a conflict between the two is resolved in favor of international law. In a dualist system, domestic law is superior to international law within the domestic legal system, while international law is superior to domestic law within the international legal system. A conflict between domestic law and international law is thus not always resolved in the same way in both systems. In addition, one of the areas with the most active use of international law in a domestic legal system is under a theory of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction most often involves both the incorporation of international law into a domestic legal system and the assertion outward (extraterritorially) of domestic judicial system. Universal jurisdiction arose initially in the context of criminal prosecutions, but is also found to some extent in civil litigation, particularly in the United States. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, a state may assert jurisdiction over an offender regardless of the nationality of the offender or victim, the place of commission of the wrongful act, or any other link to the state asserting jurisdiction.

Article

Bruce Cronin

Treaties are agreements between sovereign states, and occasionally between states and international organizations. Treaties can include conventions, covenants, charters, and statutes, all of which are legally binding under international law. There are two main types of treaties: bilateral and multilateral. Bilateral agreements are concluded by a limited number of states (usually two), and typically address a narrow set of issues that are unique to specific parties and particular circumstances. Multilateral treaties, on the other hand, establish generalized principles of conduct that apply to a wide range of states without regard to the future particularistic interests of the parties or the strategic exigencies that may exist in a particular occurrence. Treaties can serve a wide variety of functions: ending wars and establishing conditions for peace; creating new international organizations or alliances; generating new rules of coexistence and cooperation; regulating a particular type of behavior; distributing resources; and initiating new rights and obligations for future relations. No single organization or agency has the authority to enforce treaty commitment. Rather, treaties can be enforced in at least two ways. First, states can use diplomatic, economic, and/or military coercion. Second, some treaties establish their own enforcement mechanisms; for example Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter grants enforcement authority to the Security Council.

Article

Chenaz B. Seelarbokus

Over the course of the twenty-first century, international environmental cooperation has been spurred through various new international environmental institutions and programs, and a dramatic strengthening of international environmental law-making. With the burst of environmental treaty-making the corpus of international environmental law (IEL) has expanded to include significant international environmental agreements (IEAs) in the sphere of climate change, ozone layer depletion, biodiversity, and so on; as well as the recognition of important principles such as good neighborliness and the common heritage. IEAs function similarly to international treaties—indeed, the only difference between an IEA and other international treaties lies in the subject matter. IEAs function as the instrument for laying down the principles of international laws binding upon states was established by the 1815 Congress of Vienna. Over the years, IEAs have not simply increased in number, but have also undergone an evolution in their structural design. In the early 1930s, IEAs tended to be simple in terms of their requirements, vague in terms of their objectives, and utilitarian in their ethos for protecting the environment. With time, however, as environmental sciences evolved to incorporate new principles and concepts, the structure of IEAs has followed in tandem to incorporate the new understandings and the new concerns.

Article

Aaron Fichtelberg

One the most dramatic development in international law in the 20th century was the formation of international criminal tribunals. Unlike conventional international tribunals, such as the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, international criminal tribunals—such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg—are a controversial element of international law and international politics. Precisely because they are aimed at individuals who act under color of law, such as military officials or heads of state, they invoke a number of political challenges. Their combination of international law, human rights, criminal justice, and hotly disputed facts of great moral gravity makes them a subject of intense debate among academics, government officials, and the public at large. Much of the scholarship on international tribunals can be summed up by three periods: pre-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, and post-Cold War developments. Each period reveals shifts in the way that international criminal tribunals were studied and conceptualized in the academic world. In the future, much of the scholarship on international tribunals is expected to be influenced by the impact that the actual tribunals themselves have on international politics.

Article

The argument can be made, and has in fact been made, that the English School is primarily concerned with the study of institutions. The institutions of international society are social in a fundamental sense. That is, they are something above and beyond what one usually associates with an international institution. There are three dominant perspectives on what the primary institutions of international society are: functional, historical/descriptive, and typological. Hedley Bull was the major proponent of the functional perspective, and he identified five primary institutions of international society: the balance of power, international law, diplomacy, war, and the great powers. However, the historical/descriptive perspective appears to be the prevailing one. Nevertheless, various authors have started to think about the institutions of international society typologically. This has certain implications for how one views the cognitive objectives of the English School. The adherence to functional, historical/descriptive, or typological perspectives involves a positioning in relation to where international relations (IR), as a discipline, and the English School, as an approach to it, should locate itself in wider academia.

Article

The issue of human rights presents a dilemma for the discipline of international relations (IR) in general and the literature on international institutions in particular. Since international human rights institutions are primarily, but not exclusively, concerned with how states treat their own citizens, they seek to empower individual citizens and groups vis-à-vis their own governments. A major concern is whether such institutions make a difference for the protection and promotion of human rights. This concern has spawned a series of research questions and some major lines of enquiry. The study of human rights regimes has developed at the interface between IR and international law, along with the norms and practices of global human rights institutions. In addition, human rights has been institutionalized globally through the United Nations system and the connections between the development over time of international human rights institutions on the one hand, and their relative effectiveness in shaping human rights behavior on the other. The development and impact of international human rights law and policy have also been influenced by regionalism. While the research on human rights regimes has provided important insights into the role of institutions in narrowing the gap between the rhetoric and practice of human rights, there are crucial areas that need further scholarly attention, such as the domestic actors and institutions that act and could potentially act as “compliance constituencies” and conduits of domestic implementation linking international human rights norms to domestic political and legal institutions and actors.

Article

The internalization of international is the process by which nations incorporate international law domestically. While ratifying an international treaty or accepting a principle of customary international law technically binds a state to follow the rule, it is widely understood that, for international law to be implemented correctly, it must be internalized domestically because actors must have some binding sense of obligation to the law before it becomes viewed as the appropriate standard of behavior. The internalization of international law into domestic law can involve formal international laws, such as the provisions of a treaty or refer to the incorporation of broader international norms, whether or not they are codified in written form. A wide range of cultural and institutional factors can either facilitate or hinder the internalization of international law. Cultural factors include the purpose of law, the origins of the law, and perceptions of appropriate standards of behavior. Institutional factors include whether the state is monist or dualist, the political structure of the various branches of government, and the role and power of the judiciary.

Article

Chandra Lekha Sriram, Olga Martin-Ortega, and Johanna Herman

The relationship between human rights and armed conflict is rooted in historical debates among religious, philosophical, and international legal scholars about the nature of a just war, and appropriate conduct in war, which also have come to underpin and international humanitarian law. An understanding of the links between human rights, war, and conflict can begin with conflict analysis, as human rights violations can be both cause and consequence of conflict. In the most general sense, grievances over the denial or perceived denial of rights can generate social conflict. This may be the case where there is systematic discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, caste, religion, language, gender, or other characteristics. Alternatively, human rights abuses can emerge as a result of violent conflict. A conflict may have been undertaken by the parties primarily out of concern to promote a political or ideological agenda, or to promote the welfare of one or more identity group(s), or over access to resources. Human rights are also potentially transformative of conflicts and may make their resolution a greater challenge. Thus, conflicts that begin as conflicts over resources, religion, or ethnic or territorial claims, may, as they progress, create new grievances through the real and perceived violation of human rights by one or more parties to the conflict.

Article

Robert J. Beck and Henry F. Carey

The international law (IL) course offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in classroom debate on crucial topics ranging from the genocide in Darfur, the Israeli–Palestinian issue, or peace processes in Sri Lanka. A well-designed IL course can help students to appreciate their own preconceptions and biases and to develop a more nuanced and critical sense of legality. During the Cold War, IL became increasingly marginalized as a result of the perceived failure of international institutions to avert World War II and the concurrent ascent of realism as IR’s predominant theoretical paradigm. Over the past two decades, however, as IL’s profile has soared considerably, political scientists and students have taken a renewed interest in the subject. Today, IL teaching/study remains popular in law schools. As a general practice, most instructors of IL, both in law schools or undergraduate institutions, begin their course designs by selecting readings on basic legal concepts and principles. Once the basic subject matter and associated reading assignments have been determined, instructors typically move on to develop their syllabi, which may cover a variety of topics such as interdisciplinary methods, IL theory, cultural relativism, formality vs informality, identity politics, law and economics/public choice, feminism, legal realism, and reformism/modernism. There are several innovative approaches for teaching IL, including moot courts, debates, simulations, clinical learning, internships, legal research training, and technology-enhanced teaching. Another important component of IL courses is assessment of learning outcomes, and a typical approach is to administer end-of-semester essay-based examinations.

Article

One of the primary goals of the United Nations (UN) is to provide justice. The vast majority of mentions of “justice” in the UN Charter relate to the creation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), one of the UN’s five principal organs. However, this body is not empowered to take cases on behalf of aggrieved individuals or even to prosecute individual malefactors. Rather, it is “justice” for states that is its goal. Meanwhile, the treaties signed at the 1948 Peace of Westphalia radically delimited the arena of international affairs. Most importantly, Westphalia held as paramount the noninterference by other states in the internal affairs of other members of the international community. Rejecting the logic of Westphalia, the notions of “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” refer to the legal right and/or obligation for a state to interfere in another state for purposes of humanitarian protection. Consequently, the UN established the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in order to address the carnage ongoing in the Balkans, as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which targeted that country’s 1994 Hutu–Tutsi violence. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC), a non-UN institution, is the first permanent international tribunal devoted to justice in the wake of mass crimes. Each of these post-Cold War international tribunals have been concerned with the enforcement of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Ultimately, however, the international community continues to hold fast to central elements of Westphalian protections.

Article

Within the international society, law and diplomacy have always been complementary and interdependent. However, lawyers and diplomats deal with international issues differently, making them rivals to be the primary mode of international interaction. Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states; it usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the mediation of professional diplomats with regard to a full range of topical issues. Nations sometimes resort to international arbitration when faced with a specific question or point of contention in need of resolution. For most of history, there were no official or formal procedures for such proceedings. They were generally accepted to abide by general principles and protocols related to international law and justice. International law is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations. It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations. Much of international law is consent-based governance. This means that a state member is not obliged to abide by this type of law, unless it has expressly consented to a particular course of conduct, or entered a diplomatic convention. Interdisciplinary courses, like diplomacy and international law, are designed to help one think critically about diplomatic and international legal issues in real-life contexts, while applying theory to practice and addressing some of the key questions facing the world today.

Article

An intergovernmental organization, or international organization (IO), is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as member states), or of other intergovernmental organizations. They are important aspects of public international law. IOs are established by a treaty that acts as a charter creating the group, and these treaties are formed when lawful representatives (governments) of several states go through a ratification process, providing the IO with an international legal personality. IOs also take part in issues regarding migration and the prevention of ethnic conflicts. Scholars create a general criterion in defining “politically significant” ethnic groups that can be used to help bring into focus ethnicity in regard to IO involvement. Only the groups that have suffered or benefited from discrimination and have been politically mobilized are included in this criterion. This standard is beneficial when considering IOs as they will only become involved in ethnic group/state relations for groups such as these. Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. From its roots as an operational logistics agency, the IOM has widened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society to advance the understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

Article

Amanda Skuldt

Before the late 1960s, terrorism was commonly viewed as an internal problem that belonged to the realm of policing rather than foreign policy. The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s airplane hijackings in Europe, combined with the 1972 Munich Olympics wherein eleven Israeli athletes were captured and held hostage by Black September, gave rise to some foundational counterterrorism policy features; for example, no negotiations with terrorists. But it was not until the 1983–1984 attacks on its embassy and the Marine barracks in Beirut that the United States began to see terrorism as a policy concern. The terrorist attacks of September 11 also led scholars to become increasingly interested in integrating work on international terrorism into international relations (IR) and foreign policy theories. The theories of IR, foreign policy concerns of policy makers, and terrorism studies intersect in areas such as the development of international law governing terrorism, poverty, economic development, globalization, military actions, and questions of whether deterrence is still possible in the age of decentralized terrorist groups and suicidal terrorism. Despite decades of research on terrorism and counterterrorism, some very basic and important gaps remain. Issues that the academic literature on foreign policy or terrorism must address include the effects of the evolving organizational structure of terrorist groups, illegal immigration, the radicalization of European Muslims, and the phenomenon recently identified as “swarming.”

Article

If there is no authority higher than the state, why do governments ever abide by the pacts they make with each other? For some, the answer is simple: states only respect agreements that fulfill their immediate interests. Others are more optimistic. Some view compliance as a problem of enforcement, arguing that international inducements, reciprocity, concerns about reputation, and/or domestic politics/institutions regularly help sustain adherence. Others perceive compliance as a problem of capacity, or of poor management. Seen from this angle, mechanisms that “punish” through enforcement typically make matters worse; instead, treaties need to be transparent, as well as providing technical/financial assistance and solid dispute resolution. Still others emphasize the impact of social context, identity, and/or legitimacy. Governments keep their promises because they care how others perceive them, internalize norms, or view agreements as valid and fair. This article provides an overview of these perspectives, with a strong emphasis on recent developments, including findings from recent survey experiments.

Article

International organizations (IOs) have effectively modified the structure of international law. For more than six decades, IOs have echoed the aspirations of humankind, in pursuit of the ideal of realization of justice, and have furthermore contributed to that end. IOs are provided with privileges and immunities that are intended to ensure their independent and effective functioning. These are specified in the treaties that give rise to the organization, which are normally supplemented by further multinational agreements and national regulations under the international law. Rather than by national jurisdiction, legal accountability is intended to be ensured by legal mechanisms that are internal to the IO itself and by access to administrative tribunals. In the course of many court cases, where private parties tried to pursue claims against IOs, there has been a gradual realization that alternate means of dispute settlement are required, as states have fundamental human rights obligations to provide plaintiffs with access to court in view of their right to a fair trial. Otherwise, the organizations’ immunities may be put in question in national and international courts.

Article

Mark J. C. Crescenzi, Rebecca H. Best, and Bo Ram Kwon

Reciprocity refers to the character of the actions and reactions between two or more actors. This character is commonly one of responding in kind to the actions of another. As such, reciprocity is considered one of the fundamental processes observed by scholars in the study of international relations (IR). In the realm of international politics, the study of reciprocity typically encompasses formal/experimental and empirical research. Some scholars look at ethical dimensions and the propagation of norms such as the Golden Rule, while others undertake empirical analysis of patterns of reciprocity in search of answers to questions about the existence, predictability, and diffusion of reciprocity. As a concept, reciprocity has applications in a range of IR topics such as the basic ingredients of cooperation, the escalation and return of conflict, and the adherence to international law. Within the realm of conflict processes, the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) and formal frameworks are often used to represent arms races and similar security concerns. Related to the iterated PD is the work of Robert Axelrod, who demonstrated the robustness of the reciprocal strategy known as tit-for-tat (TFT). One puzzle on reciprocity that deserves consideration in future research is that the expectation of a long time horizon for interaction should stimulate the incentive to cooperate, but long time horizons may also be associated with long pasts. One way to find the answer to this puzzle is to incorporate reciprocity into more general models of international interaction.

Article

The emerging discipline of Political Science recognized international organization as an object of study earlier (i.e., around 1910) than International Law, which through an engagement with League of Nations ideals began to follow the developments of international organizations (IOs) during the 1920s, and History, which kept its focus on states and war rather than on IOs until the early 2000s. The debate between Liberal Institutionalism and (after 1945 dominant) Realism deeply influenced the study of IOs. The engagement of the United States in the United Nations System, however, stimulated further studies of IOs and produced new theoretical orientations that left room for Realist factors. The modernization of International Relations studies through Regime Theory eventually removed the need to ask historical questions, resulting in short-term studies of IOs, but new approaches such as Constructivism and Historical Institutionalism contributed to studies of long-term change of IOs and critical junctures in history. The main International Relations approach traces the rise of the United Nations System (or, more broadly, IOs) as an instrument of American exceptionalism in the world. This view is being criticized by the paradigmatic turn in the discipline of History in the early 2000s, which has included IOs in its research and relates the creation of IOs to imperial powers such as the United Kingdom and France that wanted to safeguard their empires. These historical studies start in 1919 rather than 1945 and also question International Relations’ Western-centrist universalism by including competing universalisms such as anticolonial nationalism.