International Law Definition

International law is made up of the international legal norms that regulate the laws of States. International agreements and treaties, diplomatic notes, amendments and protocols are part of this branch of law. See Abbreviation Finder for acronyms related to International Law.

With regard to the aforementioned international treaties, it is important that we bear in mind that they must be made in writing as a general rule, although it is true that there are also some that are basically based on what has been a verbal agreement between the states.

In addition to all this we have to underline that there are various types of international treaties. Thus, we can classify them based on the subject they deal with, their duration, the type of obligations they impose on both parties or the fact that they allow new members to adhere to them. In this way, we would find ourselves with international political treaties, of fixed duration, law treaties, open treaties, commercial treaties…

In the same way, we cannot ignore the fact that when establishing an international treaty, it is necessary to comply with the following phases: negotiation, the usual adoption of the text, the corresponding authentication and, finally, the provision of consent. A benefit is that it can be in a simplified way or in a solemn way.

Among the most recent and most valuable and important international treaties, we would highlight, for example, the Pacific Security Treaty dating from 1951, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996 or the famous Kyoto Protocol that was signed in 1997 and that revolves around climate change.

The norms belonging to international law can be bilateral (between two parties) or multilateral (more than two parties). States usually undertake to apply these norms in their own territories and with a status superior to national norms.

The earliest antecedent of an international law agreement took place in 3200 BC, when the Chaldean cities of Lagash and Umma agreed to delimit their borders after a war. At a general level, international law has always been focused on preserving peace and preventing the outbreak of armed conflicts.

International law can be divided into public and private. Public international law is the set of principles that regulate the legal relations of States with each other. Individuals, therefore, are not immediate subjects of its norms.

Private international law, for its part, has as its main objective the resolution of conflicts of international jurisdiction. It is responsible for defining the applicable law and determining the legal status of foreigners.

Another branch of international law is international humanitarian law. In this case, it is the rules that, in times of war, protect civilians who are not part of the conflict. International humanitarian law attempts to limit the human suffering inherent in armed conflict.

International Law