Duhaime's Law Dictionary

International Law Definition:

A combination of treaties and customs which regulates the conduct of states amongst themselves, and persons who trade or have legal relationships which involve the jurisdiction of more than one state.

Related Terms: State, Customary International Law, Private International Law, Law of Nations, Jus Cogens, International Criminal Law

Quoting from William Edward Hall, International Law, 8th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press) and F. E. Smith on International Law, 6th ed. (London: J.M. Dent, 1900), Chief Justice Chisholm of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court adopted these words in R. v Mason:

"International law consists in certain rules of conduct which modern civilised states regard as being binding on them in their relations with one another with a force comparable in nature and degree to that binding the conscientious person to obey the laws of his country.

"By international law is meant the rules acknowledged by the general body of civilised independent States to be binding upon them in their mutual relations."

In International Law, Am. Jur. 2d, page 373-374:

"International law, or the law of nations, consists of rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of states and of international organizations and with their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether natural or juridical.

"The law of nations, which is also known as customary international law, is formed by the general assent of civilized nations."

International LawJohn Bassett Moore was a well-known international law jurist and graduate from the University of Virginia law school in 1880, long-time professor at Columbia University, and one of the first to be appointed justice of the then-newly formed Permanent Court of International Justice in 1921. He defined international law as follows:

"A body of rules common to all civilized nations, equally binding upon all and impartially governing their mutual intercourses."

The highest judicial authority of international law is the International Court of Justice and the administrative authority is the United Nations.


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