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nternational Law…well, not really…

International Law differs from other areas of law in that it contains no defined area or governing body. Instead, it refers to several different types of agreements, rules, and customs. These elements, in turn, affect the legal interactions among different nations, their governments, and the businesses and organizations within these nations. But here is the trick—and this is VERY important—there is actually no such thing as international law. Yep, there is no such thing. Sure, we call it “international law”, but laws only exist inside of countries and, without an enforcement mechanism, all we have are international agreements and, sometimes, international handshakes.

In fact, treaties are actually nothing more than written handshakes. Think of a treaty like a personal check. It is only as good as the honor of the person who writing the check that the money will be there when you go to cash it. Treaties and international “rules” work the same way, and there is always a clause in these agreements that allows a country to not follow them.

The United States, and many other countries, do not recognize all of the efforts, tribunals, courts, and declarations of international law. Part of the reason for this is that not every country has the same respect for liberty as the United States. In many cases, much of the world does not have the same standards of freedom, liberty, or anti-corruption as other parts of the world.

Consider the following:

  • The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is supposed to support human rights around the world. Its current membership includes countries like Afghanistan, Angola, China, Cuba, Iraq, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Somalia among others. Do these sound like countries that the United States or any country for that matter would want to take advice on human rights from?
  • The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women includes member countries like Bahrain, China, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Tunisia, Qatar, Iraq, and many others. Again, should the United States or any country follow international agreements or advice on women’s rights handed down from these countries?
  • What are some other examples of international agreements or organizations that may not be in tune with a country’s respect for rights, its culture, or its well-being?
  • What are some examples of international agreements that may actually benefit a country, and what might some of those benefits be?
  • Do you trust that international law is impartial? Why or why not?

Keep in mind that you do not have to respond to each of the above bullets. Rather, this information is simply to provide some ideas on how to respond. As always, please feel free to ask questions.

Please remember to support your opinion with well thought out fact. Do not just state your opinion and leave it without giving the reasons why you think that way.

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