International Law

A state can use military force against another state only in self-defense to an armed attack.

The “law of war” protects non-combatants and restricts the weapons and tactics used during wars.

UN instruments and regional treaties outline rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled.

Global coordination is essential to pursuing sustainable development and fighting climate change.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What are some of the human rights guaranteed by international law?
    Human rights guaranteed by international law include civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Examples include freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of association, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to work in favorable conditions, the right to education, and protections against arbitrary arrest and detention.
  • What is the concept of sustainable development?
    Sustainable development is defined as meeting the present needs of a generation without preventing future generations from meeting their needs. It has been a guiding principle of international environmental law since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and it even has influenced economic treaties.
  • What are the main organs of the United Nations?
    The main organs of the United Nations are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the International Court of Justice, the Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council. The General Assembly is roughly parallel to the US Congress, the Secretariat to the US executive branch, and the International Court of Justice to the US Supreme Court.
  • How are treaties different from executive agreements under US law?
    A treaty requires the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate, and it must be ratified by the President. An executive agreement can be negotiated by the President without the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate, although congressional-executive agreements involve approval by a simple majority of both houses of Congress.
  • When does a treaty supersede federal laws?
    A treaty supersedes prior inconsistent federal laws if Congress implements it through new federal laws or if it is self-executing. A treaty is self-executing if there is an intent to make it enforceable under US law without additional implementing legislation.
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Popular Topics
  • The United Nations
    The largest intergovernmental organization in the world pursues goals such as promoting peace, responding to humanitarian crises, fighting poverty, and protecting human rights and the environment.
  • The International Court of Justice
    This UN organ interprets and clarifies international law by issuing binding decisions in disputes between states and providing non-binding advisory opinions to public international organizations.
  • Formation and Recognition of States Under International Law
    A sovereign state must have a permanent population, a defined territory, an effective government, and the capacity to conduct international relations, but recognition by other states is not essential.
  • International Trade Law
    International treaties and acts of intergovernmental organizations govern the global economy, while the World Trade Organization works to remove tariffs and other barriers to free trade.
  • Treaties Under International and US Law
    International agreements in the US may be defined as treaties or executive agreements, depending on Congressional involvement, but all of them impose binding obligations under international law.
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