What Is International Law?

International law is a body of legal rules, principles, and norms that govern the relations between states, international organisations, and other international actors. It establishes the legal framework for interactions and cooperation among nations in various areas such as diplomacy, trade, human rights, armed conflict, environmental protection, and more.

International law encompasses both customary law, which evolves from consistent state practice, and treaty law, which arises from formal written agreements between states. Treaties, also known as conventions, agreements, or protocols, establish legal obligations and rights between the parties involved.

The sources of international law include international treaties and agreements, customary practices, general principles of law recognised by nations, judicial decisions, and scholarly writings. While international law is not enforced by a centralised authority, states voluntarily consent to be bound by its rules and are expected to comply with their obligations.

International law serves several purposes and functions. It provides a framework for maintaining peace, resolving conflicts, protecting human rights, promoting sustainable development, and addressing global challenges. It also regulates state behaviour, facilitates cooperation, and offers mechanisms for dispute resolution.

Understanding international law involves studying its principles, institutions, and legal frameworks governing specific areas of international relations. International lawyers, diplomats, scholars, and policymakers engage with international law to ensure compliance, negotiate agreements, resolve disputes, and promote global cooperation.
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