Chapter 16 - International Law
•International law is best understood as a core international institution, a set of norms, rules and practices created by
states and other actors to facilitate diverse social goals, from order to coexistence to justice and human development.
Order and Institutions
•Realist – struggle for power.
•States have devoted much effort to liberate themselves from the condition of war than to embroil themselves in
•To achieve international order, states have created international institutions.
•International institutions are commonly defined as complexes of norms, rules and practices that ‘prescribe
behavioural roles, constrain activity, and shape expectations’.
•International organizations like the UN are physical entities that have staff, head offices, and letterheads.
•International institutions can exist without any organizational structure.
•International organizations cannot exist without an institutional framework.
•In modern international society, states have created 3 level of institutions
•Constitutional institutions, such as the principle of sovereignty, which define the terms of legitimate statehood.
•Fundamental institutions, like international law and multilateralism, which provide the basic rules and
practices that shape how states solve cooperation and coordination problems. They are the elementary rules of
practice that states formulate to solve the coordination and collaboration problems associated with coexistence
•Issue-specific institutions or regimes, such as the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which enact fundamental
institutional practices in particular realms of inter-state relations.
The Modern Institution of International Law
•Grotius wrote that states are obliges to obey the law of nations – along with laws of nature and God – ‘even though
they have made no promise’.
•This contrasts dramatically with the situation today, in which consent is treated as the primary source of international
From International to Supranational Law?
•4 characteristics of international law