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Can International Law Survive US “Leadership”?

Professor Zemanek’s excellent introductory paper to the present Agora clearly gives a list of the most serious breaches of international law committed by the United States during the last few years. They are numerous; they raise serious concerns; but they are clearly violations and no honest impartial mind can see them otherwise. By themselves, breaches of legal rules do not mean that those rules or, indeed, international law itself do not exist any more in the legal sphere. On the contrary it can be sustained that law violations “reveal” the existence and content of the violated rules, if only through the disapproval they entail; “in any legal system, international or domestic, breaking the law does not make the law disappear”. Now, this is unfortunately not the end of the question.

If one accepts that law is but a “successful policy” or, to put it in “Marxian” terms, a “superstructure” resulting from a balance of powers between the actors in international relations, then, repeated breaches by the “dominant” actor cannot but result in dramatic changes in the law itself. This is not to say that “might is right”, but that, in the long run, might deeply influences the evolution of law, which, unfortunately, might strengthen Professor Zemanek’s conclusion that States (as well as scholars) could be “well-advised to face reality… and to acknowledge the unique role of the United States, instead of persisting in the fantasy of a world order based on the equality in law of all members of the international system”.

Therefore, the question is: have we already reached the momentum when the world legal order based on the “Westphalian” view that all States are juridically equal is no more tenable? and, if the answer is “no” or “not yet”-which, I think, is the case-is it worth trying to maintain it? to which extent? and how?

A first point must be made however: the sovereign equality of States is not and has never been, an “absolute” concept. “Sovereignty” only means that States have no “superior power” over them; however, contrary to what happens in the domestic legal sphere, they do meet with competing powers-hence the fundamental idea of “equal sovereignty” or “sovereign equality”. As a consequence, States possess “the totality of international rights and duties recognized by international law”-that is all rights and obligations (i) compatible with the same rights and obligations recognized to all other States and (ii) which can be based on a legal “title” (mainly territoriality or nationality)

Moreover, exactly as the principle of equal rights and dignity of human beings is not incompatible with the fact that men and women are not equal in reality due to their physical and health conditions, financial and social situation, etc., the sovereign equality of States is by no means “descriptive” of the real situation. It is a legal concept, imperfectly protecting weak and vulnerable States from the pretence of the mighty States to domination.

In contrast with the Empire, the inter-states society is then characterized by an acceptance (even if purely verbal) of the “other” as an equal. While an Empire negates the others’ rights, a State, by definition, accepts that its own sovereignty is restricted by that, equal, of all the other States.

Top International Law Schools

Imagine yourself working at the Hague, fighting for international human rights or defending immigrants facing deportation. The field of international law is now more important than ever with globalization, trade agreements, and human rights policies affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. Take a look at the top law schools for international law in the USA. They have been chosen based on their academic reputation, commitment to the field of international law, research centers and institutes, study abroad opportunities and exchange agreements with international law faculties.

10. University of Virginia

“Virginia is justly famous for its collegial environment that bonds students and faculty”

Location:Charlottesville, Virginia

Study Abroad Opportunities :

Joint degree from University Paris 1 Pantheon – Sorbonne Law School and Sciences Po/Paris.

Tuition/Year: $35,700

9. Yale University

“Yale Law School is one of the world’s premier law schools.”

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Study Abroad Opportunities :

Fellowship at the American University in Cairo

Fellowships in International Human Rights

International Court of Justice at the Hague Internship/Clerkship

Tuition/Year: $40,900

8. University of Texas

“Students at UT Law enjoy the best of many worlds, and they emerge with a spectacular education.”

Location: Austin, Texas

Study Abroad Opportunities :

Semester in London at the University of London

JD/LLM joint program with the University of Nottingham and the University of Edinburgh.

Tuition/Year: $31,648

7. University of Michigan

“A diverse body of talented students whose cooperative spirit helps bring out the best in faculty and student alike.”

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Study Abroad Opportunities :

Students may create their own semester study abroad arrangements, approved by the Law School, and in recent years have done so with the University of Copenhagen, ITAM in Mexico City, the University of Hong Kong, and ICADE, Comillas, in Madrid, Spain.

Tuition/Year: $38,502

6. Duke University

“A community of students and scholars located in the center of one of the country’s greatest research universities.”

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Study Abroad Opportunities :

Duke Law offers two international summer institutes:

The Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law (Switzerland) and the Asia-America Institute in Transnational Law (Hong Kong)

Incompatibility – Can International Law and Islamic Law Coexist?

As the world gets closer together, we need more international law. Of course, no nation wants to be told what to do. Those nations that control or have significant influence of the United Nations, WTO, World Bank, IMF, and other such international organizations are able to push forward rules which help themselves, and put other countries at a disadvantage. This happens anytime you make rules, it even happens here the United States. It’s that old; “rule maker, rule breaker” syndrome. Okay so let’s talk about this shall we?

What happens when a nation wishes to use a religious doctrine as their law? Obviously various religious doctrines do not go with other religious doctrines, and they often conflict with international law. Not long ago, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad was interviewed on CNN. He was asked a number of questions, as to why Iran was not complying with the IAEA on the nuclear weapons inspections. He explained that his government did not recognize the IAEA as an authority, or the various components of United Nation’s International Law as trumping their own in-country laws.

He explained that whereas the United States didn’t like anyone telling it how to do its business, Iran didn’t either. Still, whereas he may have a point from his perspective, we seem to have an incompatibility with international law and Islamic law. So I beg to ask the question; can they coexist? Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that they can, and yet if Iran does not come up in the world, it will continue to be isolated, and it has a lot more to gain by accepting these international laws and rules than to shut them out.

There were two articles in the Wall Street Journal, side-by-side, published on November 10, 2012 that somewhat address this very tough issues:

1.) “Egypt Group Pushes Islamic Law” by Matt Bradley
2.) “Iranian Blogger Dies in Custody, Family Says” by Farnaz Fassihi

Then there was another article on yet another page:

1.) “Iran Stands by Attack on US Drone as Defense of Territory” by Julian E. Barnes and Jay Solomon

This last article stated that the Iranian response was; “They have a right to defend themselves, all nations have the right to defend themselves.” Which we all agree surely, however does defending yourself give you the right to go into your neighbor’s international airspace and then shoot down an aircraft? The drone, a Predator, was always in International Airspace, never in Iranian Airspace, and when it flew into Kuwaiti Airspace where it was cleared by that government, it was shot at; twice by the Iranian aircraft.

The International Community has rules of International Airspace in that region, they’ve been pre-agreed upon, however, apparently, Iran is disregarding these rules – so, what are they going to shoot down next, an airliner? We do need some international rules so that we can all get along.

These laws also help with standardization for trade, and open dialogue and communication. Not all nations follow all the international laws all the time, but the more we can get nations to coalesce along a common theme of fairness then the greater good for the human race and the future progression of the species. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Understanding Private And Public International Law

Private international law is a sector of international law that oversees all legal entanglements that involve foreign law elements. Private international law is also referred to as conflict of laws, as international law usually trumps federal or national laws if there is conflict and the countries in question have signed an agreement to submit to an international ruling.

Private international law determines, if there is a conflict of laws, who has jurisdiction over the specific case and which laws are to be applied by the country that is given jurisdictional rights.

This type of law has been practiced by ages, and was first implemented by the Romans, who established a tribunal to reside over cases brought by foreign states that had a conflict of laws with regards to a criminal, etc. the Roman courts might decide to apply the law of one nation over both Roman law and the other nation.

Thus, private international law is largely used to settle disputes between foreign countries; however, awarding a case to one may mean a backlash from the other. Because of this, international rulings often take into consideration the reality of the situation with regards to international law, and may come to a decision that both countries legal factors are okay with.

In contrast to private international law, public international law is not concerned with conflict of laws; it is concerned with the configuration and conduct of states, international organizations and sometimes commercial industry, like a multinational corporation.

Also called the ‘law of nations,’ international law deals with the possession of territory, the immunity of the state and its legal responsibility in regards to its conduct with other states. It also deals with the behavior towards citizens and non-citizens within the confines of the state. This includes rights of aliens, groups, refugees, human rights violations, crimes committed internationally, applications and problems concerning nationality, and much more.

International law attempts to maintain good relations and international peace, avoid any armed conflicts where possible, maintain arms control, concerns itself with environmental issues, communications and space technology; in essence, it simply deals with every aspect of law on an international scale, from wars to the environment and everything in between.