Course Code: Essay Example

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Question 1

What are the main sources of international law, and has their relative importance

Changed since the end of the Second World War?

International law


International law is the law which governs Nations in the global sector. It helps to ensure there is agreement among nations which leads to political stability. This essay will argue that there are various sources of international law and their relative importance has changed since the end of Second World War (Davidson 2000). There are those scholars who argue that there have been no changes in the international law since the end of second world while others argue that there are radical changes in the international. In this regard therefore, the essay will first discuss the main sources of international law then followed by the changes which have taken place since the Second World War ended. s

Sources of international law

The sources of international law are basically divided in form of hierarchy. It is practiced at all levels of judicial systems. The main source of international law is the treaties and agreements which are signed by different states. For instance the UN Charter led to signing of the Sea Treaty and proliferation Treaty (Byers & Nolte 2003). These treaties help to guide the behavior of many states when they are involved in international and domestic issues. The treaties help to ensure that sovereign states have great contractual relationships and that their obligations are bound by the agreement. In addition, these treaties have helped to improve globalization since the sovereign states conduct businesses according to the contractual terms.

Another source of the international law is the practice of states. This is referred to as the customary law. There is no exact rule which governs the customary law. In this source of law, the states behave in a way which seems to uphold the international law. The behavior of the countries is dominated by the international laws. Most of the sovereign states observe the international treaties and implement it at their domestic issues. However, this source of international has been debated for some time (Aust 2007). There are those who argue that it is not mandatory that states practice the dominant rules of the international treaty. They may take the advantage and practice unethical behaviors which are against the international treaty after all.

Another source of the international law is the recognition of principles which are practiced by the civilized nations. The civilized nations are the developed economies. Their politics help to shape the politics of developing countries. They upheld the international laws and this influences the behavior and application of the laws in developing nations, hence influencing the law application of international law (Dinstein 2004). However, it is argued that the civilized nations may practice unethical practices which could spread to other nations. This negative influence will affect the implementation of the international law. The negative principles may also affect the municipal law of states negatively.

Finally, the international law can also be found from the decisions and proposals made by the jurists and scholars. The international court of justice makes some opinions which they think are effective in upholding the international law. These writings are made by European court of human rights and the permanent court of international justice. These writings and opinions help to supplement the international law since they are based on the experience (Dekker & Post 2003). However, it is argued that the decisions and writings of the jurists may not be substantial enough to make a ruling in the international court of law. This is because the writings maybe biased or insufficient hence there could be debates about the writings. The writings can only be influential and could be persuasive to the international law.

International law on the other hand has various roles to play in the society. This is in the context that various sources of law have played great role in the society. To start with, international law aims to protect the rights of human beings (Evans 2006). In the international law it is agreed that the human rights should be protected and the States have the responsibility of ensuring that the rights have been upheld. This is in the context that civilized nations will uphold the principles of human rights. This was the basic and the main role of the international law. However, many nations have not observed the human rights. For instance, in some states, they have death penalty laws and they are implemented. This is against the human rights law as indicated in the international law.

In addition, the international law is meant to promote peace and stability globally. International law guides the behavior of various nations. It states that there is no nation which should violate the rights of other nations unless it’s a threat to its national peace stability. Peace talks and negotiations are the only ways in which nations can find peace (Klabbers & Sellers 2008). There should be no unjustified wars as this will lead to increased crimes. In this regard, international law is applied to settle disputes and conflicts among various states globally. It also helps to protect developing nations from oppression from the developed and civilized nations.

There have been various in the relative importance of the sources of the international law since the end of second world war. After the creation of United Nations in the year 1945, the international law against war and crime changed (United Nations 2008). The United Nations laws gave the responsibility to nations to ensure there is stability in their territories and that the citizens could be treated fairly. The United Nations together agreed that there should be no aggressive and in any case there is the individuals will be held responsible for the acts against humanity. This changed the source of international law from international treaties to United Nations.

In addition, the collective security also changed after the Second World War. After the Second World War, United Nations, was created, Organization of American States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were created. All these organizations were meant to create peace stability among the world Nations (United Nations 2008). NATO had the opportunity to expand its missions and membership. To date, NATO provides collective security as well as extending its operations of democracy throughout Eastern Europe nations. In this regard, the initial sources of international law have been neglected and nations are now looking upon these organizations for international law. However, there are those nations which oppose the creation of these organizations and suggest that all nations should follow the international law. This is because these organizations may promote colonialism.

Furthermore, after the end of second world war, the United Nations Council advocated for elimination of colonialism rather promoted people’ self determination (Patrick & Alain 2002). The law aimed to end Western colonialism which was initially among the Treaties which were signed before the Second World War. In this effect, there was anew source of international law which sought to end colonialism hence supplemented the importance of the initial international law.


International law is the set of laws and rules which govern the ways in which states relate with one another. The international law helps to promote peace and stability among nations. There are various sources of international law. These sources include the treaties and agreements which are signed by various countries. Another source of the international law is the state practices and the principles and regulations which are set by civilized nations. Finally, international law can be sourced from decisions made by jurists and scholars which influence the international behaviors. Creation of organizations such as United Nations and NATO has helped to influence the relative importance of the initial sources of international law. They promote peace stability and ethical conduct among nations.


Aust, A 2007, Modern Treaty Law and Practice, New York, Cambridge University Press.

Byers, M & Nolte, G 2003, United States Hegemony and the Foundations of International

Law, New York, Cambridge University Press.

Davidson, S 2000, The Law of Treaties, Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Dekker, I. F & Post, H 2003, On the Foundations and Sources of International Law, New York, Cambridge University Press.

Dinstein, Y 2004, The conduct of hostilities under law of international armed conflict, Cambridge, Cambridge University  Press.

.Evans, M. D 2006, International Law, 2nd edn., New York, Oxford University Press.

Klabbers, J & Sellers, M. N 2008, The Internationalization of Law and Legal Education, London, Springer.

Koskenniemi, M 2000, Sources of International Law, Burlington, VT: Ashgate/ Dartmouth.

Patrick, D & Alain, P 2002, Droit international public, London, Springer,

United Nations 2008, Treaty Handbook, New York, United Nations Publications.