Political Science 2231E Lecture Notes - Ex Post Facto Law, Adolf Eichmann, United Nations Human Rights Council

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Published on 9 Feb 2013
Wednesday, 6 February, 2013
International Law
Different from domestic laws
- Reflect the lack of a single sovereign authority or institution
- No global legislative body to set laws
- No universal judiciary
Who is subject to International Law?
- Individuals
- Corporations
- States and national institutions
Two key sources of international law:
- Customary Practices
- Commonplace and widespread adherence to unwritten rules of conduct
- Can be considered binding, even to those who have not consented
- Treaties
- Written and agreed-upon contracts to apply only to signatories
- Need to be ratified domestically following harmonization of law
Why do states obey International Law?
- Law forms a framework for orderly conduct
- Violation of law carries the possibility of sanctions or reprisals
- Following law develops norms of reciprocity
- Both domestic and international publics can hold states accountable
Human Rights Law
- Grounded in the doctrine of Natural Law
- Certain actions are universally understood by virtue of innate human reason
- What is wrong is wrong in every situation because it is governed by a higher
(supernatural) law
- The writings of St. Thomas Aquinas
The doctrine of positives law hindered efforts to develop International Law
- Rights can only originate from human actions
- No law in the absence of a sovereign authority to enforce
Evolution of Human Rights Law
1946 Nuremberg Trials focused on crimes against humanity
- Emphasis on the superiority of international law over national law in the area of human
rights
- Orders given by superiors do not justify actions
- Individuals and governments can be held accountable for war crimes
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