Why is international law actually a law?
International rightthe legal clauses established by treaty or customary law that regulate the rights and obligations, relations and intercourse between states and other legal subjects of international law in peace and war.
The basis of validity of international law is not the sovereign order or the institutionally guaranteed regulation of a superior coercive organization (as is the case with national law), but the law-creating consensus of the states, based on the basic principle of the sovereign equality of all states associated in the international legal community. The normative power of international law depends on their active legal convictions (to what extent they respect each other's existence and integrity and order their relationships according to legal principles, not according to opportunity, arbitrariness and violence). Because the binding nature of international law lacks regular and effective sanctions, its legal character has repeatedly been denied.
The original legal subjects of international law are the sovereign states. International organizations, some historical subjects of international law (Holy See, Order of Malta, International Committee of the Red Cross), certain groups (minorities, belligerent parties) and, to a very limited extent, individuals (human rights, international criminal law) also have international legal capacity at their will, but to a limited extent. to. The United Nations (UN) is the only universal subject of international law, its specialist organizations (e.g. UNESCO) are separate subjects of international law.
Legal sources of international law are treaties and customary law, supplemented by the general legal principles recognized by civilized states (Art. 38 Statute of the International Court of Justice). The binding force of the contractual agreement, which is based on the Pacta sunt servanda principle, only applies to the contracting parties. Resolutions, recommendations of international organizations and conferences can only become legally binding if this is provided for in a contract or if they are made part of a properly concluded contract. Otherwise they are non-binding, so-called soft law. The rules of international law on treaties have been codified in the Vienna Convention of May 23, 1969 on the Law of Treaties. Legal clauses of customary international law of universal (e.g. freedom of the seas) or regional validity (e.g. the border line on a lake) arise from a longer-lasting uniform practice. A distinction is made between the universal V., which applies to all states, the general V., which applies to most states, and the particular and regional V. cogens. This means a few mandatory provisions of the V., from which no subject of international law may deviate and which stand above other rules of the V. Conflicting agreements are void. These include, for example, the core of human rights (prohibition of genocide, prohibition of slave trade, prohibition of piracy, etc.), the prohibition of violence and the prohibition of war of aggression. The imperative V., especially human rights, has an effect erga omnes, i.e. This means that it does not only apply between possible contracting parties, but must always be observed by every subject of international law.
International law and national law: V. and national law are two distinct and different legal systems (dualistic theory). In order to also be binding domestically, a legal set of international law must be incorporated into the respective national legal system by a state decision (constitution or law) (transformation). In Germany, general rules of international law are part of federal law; they take precedence over the laws and create rights and obligations directly for the residents (Art. 25 GG). Federal treaties, which are not just administrative agreements, become federal law by way of legislation (Article 59 (2) of the Basic Law). The origin of European Community law is also V., but has evolved into supranational law.
International law is traditionally divided into peace law and martial law. Today we also speak of an international law of cooperation. International law includes the emergence, continuity and fall of states, the delimitation and change of state territory, the general rights and obligations of states and liability for violations of international law. Important individual areas are z. B. consular law, maritime, air and space law, the law of international trade and business, human rights, aliens law, disarmament and peacekeeping, the institutions of peaceful dispute settlement.
Source: Duden Law A-Z. Specialized lexicon for studies, training and work. 3rd edition Berlin: Bibliographisches Institut 2015. Licensed edition Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education.
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