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How are International Laws Typically Enforced?

International law is typically enforced by international courts and with sanctions. Both play a major role in today’s society and are a reason why international law is often followed by states and countries. Many people may question whether international law is a true law. But, international law has many of the elements of what people consider law.

Who Enforces International Law?

The United Nations (UN) and the international community enforces international law. The UN is an international governmental agency and one of its initial goals is generally the role of international law. The UN’s goal is to create a “collective security system” that can discourage physical aggression and establish “strong cooperation between countries in economic and social matters”, according to “The law and practice of the United Nations. Vol. 57”, by Benedetto Conforti and Carlo Focarelli. 

The UN also has the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which enforces international law by settling disputes between countries and providing advisory opinions on international legal issues. Once the ICJ provides a final decision, countries are required to comply with the decision. 

In addition, the International Criminal Court enforces penalties for violating international law with often focus on some of the most heinous crimes (e.g., genocide). These courts can issue sanctions to enforce international law and prevent acts that may violate international law.

What are Sanctions?

Why are International Laws Typically Followed by States and Countries, Is international law a true law
The United Nations play a major role with ensuring international laws are typically followed by states and countries

Sanctions are generally actions taken by countries or international organizations to force another country to comply with international law. Sanctions come in a variety of forms and can include economic sanctions, trade embargoes, travel bans, and asset freezes. In addition, sanctions can be used against countries, companies, and individuals. 

Sanctions can be imposed by intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations Security Council, or by individual states and countries.

Why are International Laws Typically Followed by States and Countries?

International law is typically followed by states and countries because they voluntarily sign up to be governed by international laws. In addition, many international laws are generally for the collective benefit of all involved states and countries. Therefore, it is in their best interest to follow international laws.

Is International Law a True Law?

Many people argue that international law is not a true law. In democracies, laws are typically drafted by a congress and signed into power by the executive branch such as a president or prime minister. Because there is no true executive branch in international law, many believe international law is not a true law. However, international law creates a set of rules that members are governed by. This is similar to the role of national laws.


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