Summary- International Law
• International Law is a law that governs the relations between states.
• Only states are subjects of international law and can bring a claim to ICJ; certain international
organizations have acquired international legal personalities making them subjects of
• Sources of International Law include International conventions (Treaties); International custom;
General principles of Law; and Legal Scholarships.
• Jus cogens: are principles or norms of international law that is based on values taken to be
fundamental to the international community that cannot be disregarded. Or a fundamental
principle accepted as a universal norm.
• Enforcement of international law depends on the power and willingness of states to punish
those that violate the laws; Reciprocity principle is also critical in enforcing international law.
• The International Court of Justice is the primary judiciary organ of the United Nations.
• It addresses only legal disputes submitted to it by states; i.e. only states can sue and be sued at
the ICJ. (Contentious Cases)
• Also gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by other UN organs and authorized
agencies (Advisory proceedings)
• International Law includes the Law of Sovereignty (Law of diplomacy); Just War doctrine
(Geneva Conventions, POWs); Law of the Sea (Internal, Territorial, Exclusive Economic Zones-
EEZ, and the High Seas).
• Environmental issues are embodied in the debate between individual and collective interest.
• The conceptual explanation of how the environment is threatened is embodied in the “Tragedy
of the Commons”. Failure to manage the commons brings ruin to all.
• Malthus and Hardin warned about the potential dangers of growth to the environment.
• Externality: occurs when a decision imposes costs or provides benefits to individuals other than
the person making the decision; it can also refer to unintended consequences of an activity. Eg
Driving a car pollution
• International Treaties on the management of the environment include the Montreal Protocol
(regarding Ozone depletion); Kyoto protocol (Global warming and control of greenhouse gases