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Public international law
Meaning and definition of international law
The expression international law was coined for the first time by Jeremy Bentham in 1780 the term international law is synonymous with the term law of Nations it is a body of rules and principles which regulate the conduct and relations of the members of the international community.It aims to achieve:
- International peace and security
- To promote friendly relations among the member states that is members of international community that is United Nations
It is very difficult to define the term international law
There are many definitions given by Scholars subject experts and international jurists, prominent among them are given below
Professor Oppenheim one of the most celebrated authors of Public International law defined
“Law of Nations or International law is the name for the body of customary and treaty rules which are considered legally binding by civilized states in their intercourse with each other”.
This definition was not adequate or satisfactory and subjected to criticism on the following grounds
- Not only State but all the public International organisations have rights and duties under International Law do they may not have all the rights and duties that States have
- The term civilized States used in the definition was criticized neither long history in our culture is the Criterion for distinguishing between Civilization uncivilized States for instance China had five thousand year old culture but it was not included in the group of civilized States
- Even individuals and private persons may have such rights and duties
- It is widely recognized that International Law consists of not only customary and conventional rules but also of general principles of law.
- The term body of rules used in definition stands changed as static and inadequate the law changes with the change of time and circumstances.
In the view of changing character of international law the above definition is revised in Oppenheim’s international law as international law is a body of rules which are legally binding on stage in their intercourse with each other. These rules are primarily those which govern the relation of state but states are not only subjects of international law. International organisations and to some extent individuals also may be subjects of rights conferred and duties imposed by international law.This definition is almost identify identical to the definitions given by Starke and Fenwick
He defined international law is the body of general principles and specific rules which are binding upon the members of international community in their mutual relations
He define International Law as the body of rules and principles of actions which are binding upon civilized states in their relations with one another.
This definition is not adequate and the subject to criticism on the ground of constant development of international law.In addition to civilized estates International Law also regulate the relations of international organisations individuals and non state entities.
International Law means the body of rules of law which apply within the international community or Society of estates
Lord coleridge in Queen vs Keyn, 1876 define International Law as a law of nations that collection of usages which civilization has agreed to observe in their dealings with one another.
West Rand Central Gold mining limited company vs King, 1905
Redefine International Law “the form of rules accepted by civilized States as determining the conduct towards each other and towards each other subject”.
SS Lotus case ,1927:
The permanent Court of international justice in SS Lotus case between France and Turkey define international law has
“International Law governs relations between Independent States.The rules of Law binding upon states therefore emanate from their own free will as expressed in conventions are the uses generally accepted as expressing principles of law and established in order to regulate the relations between these coexisting independent communities or with a view to the achievement of common aims. Restrictions upon the independence of the states cannot therefore be presumed”.
Hans kelsen and its principles of international law define “International Law all of nations is the name of a body of rules which according to the usual definition regulate the conduct of states in their intercourse with one another”.This definition was not adequate and subject to criticism.
The above definitions do not represent appropriately International Law as it exists today
Strake in his introduction to international law find it as “the body of laws which is composed by its greater part of principles and rules of conduct with States feel themselves bound to observe and therefore do commonly observe in their relations with each other and which includes also
- The rules of law relating to the functioning of international Institutions, organisations relations with states and individuals
- Setting rules of law relating to the individuals and non state and it is so far as the rights or duties of such divisions and non state entities are the concern of international community.
This definition may be regarded as an appropriate one since it takes into account the changing character of international law and truly reflects the present position of international law.