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International Norms, Values, and Law Enforcement


International law is defined as the amalgamation of rules of conduct which are deduced from reasoning as components to justice, from the societal constructs existing among independent states.

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The sources of international laws are:

  1. Text-writers of the authority, demonstrating the approved usage of the nations and one that shows the general opinion of the states.
  2. The treatise related to international peace, alliance, and commerce declaring, defining the pre-existent international law.
  3. Ordinances of States, providing the rules for conduct of their tribunals.
  4. The adjudications of international courts such as the board of arbitrations.
  5. The written opinions of official jurists with confidentiality of their own governments.
  6. History of wars, negotiations, treatise of peace, and other transactions relating to the public intercourse of nations.

Thus international law may be defined as “the law of the international system of nation states.” (Henkin, 1995, p. 1) The present state of international law has no government and no institutions of government. But even though it does not have a governing body, it the functions associated with governance under a legal system is performed. International law has no legislature even then law is made. There is no executive body that can enforce the law, but still it is complied with.

One of the most frequent arguments against international law is that it is not a true as it does not have a legislative or an executive body. In matter of enforcement of international law the questions that arise two issues: (a) does any law depend on the chances of being enforced, and (b) international law is not enforceable or effective. But actually international law can be enforced though the following bodies:

First, the Security Council gains power under the Charter of the United Nations. It may take ‘enforcement action’ against a State which possess a threat to the peace, or has committed aggression against a nation or breach of peace. This comes under Article 39 of the UN Charter. The Council has been bestowed with the power to take military action against the aggressor. This was seen in case of use of force by the UN in Korea in 1950, against Iraq in 1990/91, Indonesia and East Timor in 1999/2000 and Afghanistan in 2001. The Security Council may act against non-state entities by imposing financial and economic sanctions against Al-Qaida and Taliban.

Another institution that can enforce international law is International Court of Justice. The ICJ was established by the United Nations with the purpose to solve disputes between nations which have agreed to accept its jurisdiction of the law enforcement body, and gives advisory opinions. They were created to judge criminals of the genocide (UN Treaty, 1999).

The concept of international tribunals arises from the agreement between nations. But the question of existing and operating are two different issues. Even though there exist other tribunals ICJ holds a special space and if any state which is a member of the UN may come before the court to seek justice.

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The ICJ has to follow non-enforcement for state who has agreed not to join the international organization. So the court abstained from making an attempt to make states adhere to human rights standard against their will. The building block to enforce this rule was Article 2(7) of the UN Charter: “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.”1

Enforcement of international justice is important to ensure that domestic terror and violence will not be nonchalantly observed by the international body. Increasing consensus has arisen which ensures that it is a matter of international concern. This has been proven through the establishment of the UN’s peach-keeping forces, observer missions, truth commissions, and international criminal tribunals shows the UN’s willingness to intervene in a non-member state’s internal conflicts in order to ensure enforcement of the rule of law and human rights. This was a necessary stance which if applied in Rwanda could have stopped the genocide there.

Further, a State can intervene into another country’s land to ensure safety and obliging to the human rights of the people. Examples of such intervention by member states are the Indian intervention in the then East Pakistan in 1971, the Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia in 1978, the Tanzanian intervention in Uganda in 1979, and more recently the US intervention in Iraq. But this rules out the possibility of institutional enforcer of international law.

Thus, international law can be enforced through international organizations like the UN and ICJ. Given the nature of international law, it has already been codified through the Vienna Convention. What is important to understand is that whether it should be codified or enforced? The law should be enforced. This is because there are States who have been undertaking aggression or Genocide which need to be stopped by international intervention. Only codification of the law cannot solve such a situation.

Works Cited

  1. Henkin, L. (1995). International Law. Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
  2. UN Treaty. (1999). International Court of Justice. Web.


1 U.N. Charter art. 2, ¶ 7, signed  1945, 59 Stat. 1031, T.S. No. 993, 3 Bevans 1153 (entered into force 1945).

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StudyCorgi. "International Norms, Values, and Law Enforcement." October 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "International Norms, Values, and Law Enforcement." October 23, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'International Norms, Values, and Law Enforcement'. 23 October.

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