1 The Nature of the International Legal System INTRODUCTORY NOTE Open a newspaper, listen to the radio or watch television, and you will be confronted with events that have significance in international law. United Nations’ resolutions and peacekeeping forces; the claims for independence by groups around the world; confer- ences on the environment and on trade; the changing political and social situation in Africa, Asia and Europe; allegations of human rights abuses in many States; attempts to control terrorism and drugs; debates concerning the future of the United Nations; and the increasing impact of European laws on the member States of the European Union, are but a few examples. Overall, there is an increased interdependence in the interna- tional community. It is these events and this interdependence that international law addresses by analysing the legal principles arising from interactions between States, actions by States and certain actions by individuals, corporations, international organisations and other actors on the international plane. International law has effects on, and is affected by, international relations, political thought and communications, as well as by the awareness of women and men in every State that they are among those addressed by the United Nations Charter as being ‘We, the Peoples of the United Nations’. International law is really a description of an entire legal system: the international legal system. It is an international legal system by which legal rules are created in order to structure and organise societies and relationships. It acknowledges the inﬂuence of political, economic, social and cultural processes upon the development of legal rules. Within this international legal system are, for example, constitutional laws, property laws, criminal laws and laws about obligations, although these terms are not normally used. It is this extensive array of laws within the international legal system that is included under the name ‘international law’. SECTION 1: THE RELEVANCE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW International law is law and has relevance to our daily lives. For example, international law enables international telephone calls to be made, overseas mail to be delivered, and travel by air, sea and land to occur relatively easily. Fear of enforcement of law is rarely the sole reason why law is obeyed, but the behaviour of States and people often is modified depending on the substance of the law, and its aspirational and inspir- ational aspects. International law does affect the actions of States and others in the international community.
2 The Nature of the International Legal System H. Waldock, J. Brierly’s The Law of Nations (6th edn, 1963) L. Henkin, How Nations Behave (2nd edn, 1979) Violations of the law are rare in all customary systems, and they are so in international law. . . . [That] the law is normally observed . . . receives little notice because the interest of most people in international law