Highlights on Introduction to Public International Law

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Public International Law

The set of rules governing the activities of states and their relationship with other states, international organizations, and other subjects of international law.


Hugo Grotius

Considered the father of international law


Evolution of Public International Law

Modern international law now includes non-state actors such as multinational corporations, NGOs, and even individuals. Also goes beyond war and peace to include human rights, environmental protection, etc


Private International Law vs Public International Law

1. Private international law deals with individuals of different nationalities, whilst public international law deals mainly with states.

2. Domestic laws are the source of law in private international law, whilst treaties and customary laws among others are the sources of law in public international law.

3. A violation of public international law is punished by other states, but a violation of private international law is punished by the state’s whose laws are being applied.


Public International Law vs Municipal/National Law

1. The national laws of a state are made by a definite body of legislators, whilst states create international laws through state activities (treaty, customary law, soft laws)

2. States in public international law must consent to be bound by international law, whilst in municipal law, such consent does not exist.

3. There is a system of courts under municipal law with a clear hierarchy, whilst such a system does not exist under public international law.


Is International Law Law? (Yes)

1. States enforce international law on themselves and on other states.

2. States create international law and consent to be bound by it.

3. States abide by international law.


Is International Law Law? (No)

1. States, especially powerful ones, can decide to disregard the rulings of any international legal body.

2. There is no international body to enforce international law.