Treaties and Customary Laws Essay Example

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Treaties and Customary Laws


A treaty is one of the most formal and reliable for of international commitment as it signals a high level of commitment in addition to other advantages. They can represent states obligation, dispute resolution and defines rules of accession and exit (Wippman, Dunoff & Ratner, 2010). Treaties can be cancel whenever parties involved feel violated, and thus can provide for sanctions. The states agree to what extent they are willing to commit in the form of a treaty in order to get the same level of commitment from another. Through a treaty, a state can be able to improve its reputation and solve issues, and this increases the cost of a breach. In the United States, I think treaties acts as enablers our country’s foreign policies as well as core interests. In my view, I would view treaties to be paramount for any challenges that a country faces. The United States plays a major role in building and maintaining the international system. It has been on the forefront to reduce conflicts, uplift people living in extreme poverty, saved millions from measles, malaria, and tuberculosis, and promote democracy. At the same time, we live in an increasingly complex world where globe issues can have impacts on our country and create national security challenges. It is through treaties that the United States has been able to promote security and prosperity and without it would be difficult to achieve these core interests.

United States alone cannot bear all these alone, and thus through treaties, we can address challenges across our borders and strengthen United States ability to act in a coordinated manner to effectively counter complex threats. These treaties promote prosperity without the need to opt to military force. Treaties have served the country well in promoting our values such as human dignity and equality. For instance, when there was Ebola outbreak in West Africa, United States through resources from the World Health Organization, an organization that was established through a treaty has helped countries to respond and take the necessary measures to control the spread of Ebola in various countries in West Africa. Also, for the United States to maintain peace in conflict areas such as Somali, South Sudan or Iran, it relies on the United Nation Security Council which was also founded through a treaty to send peace troops to maintain peace in such countries. In other words, treaties outlining international orders are crucial as they enable member states to mobilize resources that allow them to address issues that are a threat to the global stability and prosperity. So, it is clear that treaties play a crucial role in maintaining international orders as well as the country’s core interests.

Customary Law

It is defined as the practice of states that originate from the duty of legal obligation. Custom consists of state practice and opinio iuris. However, there is the uncertainty about the state of practices frequency, duration and consistency required to create a customary norm. Moreover, there lack selection criteria for standards of the state of practice, and thus custom argument suffer the degree of arbitrariness (Wippman, Dunoff & Ratner, 2010). States comply with the customary law and even incorporate its norms into the domestic statutes.

However, a state is induced to comply with The Customary International Law to fill gaps in the incentives to comply with custom. These gaps can occur as a when the relevant treaties were not ratified, or some details were missing. Its advantage is that the government does not that to accept the rules formally to be bound by it as long as the customary law that governs the state of practice is derived from is accepted as law. In fact, states may avoid defecting from the customary rules in cases whereby both states value and believe that defection may result in the rules erosion. If one state defects from the rule, the other may react to this faultiness with non-cooperation in future. Due to interconnection, states that fail to comply with customary norms may also affect their cooperation with others on a different subject. Thus, the possibility of a faulty behavior can disrupt future expectations. Therefore, when states take precedential act in engaging in state practice about the customary norm, it must put into consideration of the law consequences. Since any defect that a state makes may erode a legal norm and disrupt future cooperation, states will restrain their behavior to conform to the customary law. Customary law norms may be useful in case of coalition warfare. When states in a coalition have not ratified same treaties, the customary law represents rules that are common to the member states of a coalition. The rules will be used to draft common rules in the engagement process.


Wippman, D., Dunoff, J. L., & Ratner, S. R. (2010). International Law: Norms, Actors, Process: A Problem-oriented Approach. (3rd Edition ed.) Aspen Publishers.