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International Law

Law is an English word it is derived from German word “Lag” which means Constant
Unmovable, Static and Plane.

Definitions of Law:
There are various definitions of law some of them are the following.

Aristotle: “Whatever the ruling party enacts is called law”

John Austin: “Law is the command of sovereignty”

Woodrow Wilson: “Law is that portion of establishing thought which has distinct & in the
shape of uniforms backed by the authority & power of state”

Holland: “Law is general rule of external action enforced by sovereign political authority”

J.C. Carter: “Law always has been still is and will forever continue to be custom”

Sir Henry Maine: “Law is accepting norms of society and state has to implement those

Salmond: “The body of principles recognized & applied by the state in the application of

1. Law should be uniform.
2. It should be universal.
3. Its jurisdiction should be compulsory.
4. There should be system of course.

Divisions of Law:
1- Municipal Law (with in the country)
2- International Law (out of the country)

Introduction to International Law


"International law is the body of legal rules, norms, and standards that apply between
sovereign states and other entities that are legally recognized as international actors."

International law is also called Public International Law and Law of Nations.
The term was coined by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832).

Definitions of International Law:

There is still no consensus among academics and other interested parties as to what
international law is. There are some who argue that there is no such thing as international
law as it is not imposed by a sovereign authority. However, it is not a very strong argument
because all laws are not necessarily imposed by sovereign authorities. A very good example
is the customs, which are practices of people. Furthermore, all relevant sectors in the
international community act as if international law exists.

1. Classical Definitions:
Some classical definitions by prominent scholars are given below that don't meet with
modern trends of international law
• Bentham: International law is a collection of rules governing relations between states.
• Oppenheim: Law of nations or international law is the name for the body of customary
and conventional rules which are considered legally binding by the civilized states in their
intercourse with each other.

2. Modern Definitions:
The earlier definition was that international law is a system of law that regulates the activity
of states. However, this is not a modern definition because international law does not
confine itself to States. Therefore, modern definitions for international law have been
introduced. For example,
• Prof. J. G. Starke has stated that: “International law consists of a system of laws, the
majority of which applies to states but also regulates activities of individuals and
international organizations when it becomes the concern for the international community.”
• Schwarzen Berger: International law is body of legal rules which apply between
sovereign states and such entities which have been granted international legal personality.

Disciplines of International Law:

The term "international law" can refer to three distinct legal disciplines:

• Public International Law, which governs the relationship between provinces and
international entities. It includes these legal fields: treaty law, law of sea, international
criminal law, the laws of war or international humanitarian law and international human
rights law.
• Private International Law, or conflict of laws, which addresses the questions of (1)
which jurisdiction may hear a case, and (2) the law concerning which jurisdiction applies to
the issues in the case.
• Supranational Law or the law of supranational organizations, which concerns regional
agreements where the laws of nation states may be held inapplicable when conflicting with
a supranational legal system when that nation has a treaty obligation to a supranational
The two traditional branches of the field are:
1. Jus Gentium — law of nations
2. Jus Inter Gentes — agreements between nations

Significance of International Law:

International law is the vital mechanism without which an interdependent world cannot
function properly and within the bounds of law. It does not only control the states by
overseeing their conduct in relation with other states, like the law prohibiting the use of
armed force to settle dispute, but also maintains laws regarding individuals (e.g. human

Furthermore, international law is intrinsically bound up with diplomacy, politics and conduct
of foreign affairs; it is not, at all, based on an adversarial system of law, meaning thereby
that many of the rules have been evolved from the practice of the states and do not bind
the states in any course, which tends to make international law more flexible. Also,
international law leaves a state with so many options rather than with merely one course of
action, which serves as an advantage for a system so bound up with politics and diplomacy.

Global Scope of International Law:

According to Bentham's classic definition, international law is a collection of rules governing

relations between states. It is a mark of how far international law has evolved that this
original definition omits individuals and international organizations—two of the most
dynamic and vital elements of modern international law. Furthermore, it is no longer
accurate to view international law as simply a collection of rules; rather, it is a rapidly
developing complex of rules and influential—though not directly binding—principles,
practices, and assertions coupled with increasingly sophisticated structures and processes.
In its broadest sense, international law provides normative guidelines as well as methods,
mechanisms, and a common conceptual language to international actors—i.e., primarily
sovereign states but also increasingly international organizations and some individuals. The
range of subjects and actors directly concerned with international law has widened
considerably, moving beyond the classical questions of war, peace, and diplomacy to include
human rights, economic and trade issues, space law, and international organizations.
Although international law is a legal order and not an ethical one, it has been influenced
significantly by ethical principles and concerns, particularly in the sphere of human rights.

Above all, international law covers a wide range of laws which include the following:
• Refugee laws
• Narcotics/Drugs treaties
• Human trafficking
• Obscene publication
• World health treaties
• International trade development
• Agreement relating to independent guarantee and letter of credit.
• Protocol on road signs and signals 1947
• Contract of carriage of goods by roads.

Scope of International Law in Pakistan:

As far as the scope of international law in Pakistan is concerned, it is expanding with the
passage of time. Pakistan is under an obligation to follow its international commitments
arising out of any treaty, convention or international agreement, ratified by it. Further, after
having ratified a treaty, it is mandatory for Pakistan to incorporate it into domestic laws by
enacting implementing legislations. For instance, Dangerous Cargos Act and Maritime Zones
Act, 1996 of Pakistan aim at translating its international obligations into the domestic laws.
Similarly, United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea has been ratified by Pakistan and to
ensure its enforcement, corresponding domestic legislation is required.


Keeping in view the need of a stable and orderly international society, the relevance and
pertinence of international law is all the more emphasized. In this age of globalization and
an increased degree of interdependence between different countries of the world,
international law can provide a viable regime to regulate intra state relations and activities.
However, it is to be noted that international law has its limitations owing to concepts like
state sovereignty - a sacred norm of international law. But recent developments in the
arena of international law have proved that it can play a vital role in regulating international
affairs through various treaties and conventions, which upon ratification, bind the state
parties to observe the same. Although, as has been said earlier, there does not exist an
effective tool/forum to implement these international treaties (like the corrective measures
that can be resorted to by a state against its citizens in an event of non-compliance to the
laws of the land), nevertheless, compliance can be ensured by means of sanctions (such as
trade embargos or diplomatic cut off etc) which are of great relevance for life in the comity
of nations, already becoming a global village. For example, UNSC issued 1373/01 resolution
which prevents and suppress the financing of terrorist acts and 1566/04 further makes it
mandatory for worldwide implementation. The importance associated to these sanctions can
be traced to factors such as increased economic (trade) activity at a global level, free flow
of information, formation of regional/global blocks pursuing a specific ideology/orientation,
an ever increasing rate of immigration, natural as well as human resource sharing etc. All
these factors have contributed to the growth of international law and at the same time
highlighted the need of it. It may finally be said that starting from the limited interstate
interaction between the Greek city states, international law and its need have become more
relevant in the modern state system. It can help bridge the gaps of dissenting ideologies
and divergent policies of sovereign states by bringing them together on a commonly agreed
upon law (treaty/agreement/convention), so as to bind them into compliance and reduce
friction to ensure a more orderly and peaceful world.