Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of states and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond domestic legal interpretation and enforcement. Public international law has increased in use and importance vastly over the twentieth century, due all to the increase in global trade, armed conflict, environmental deterioration on a worldwide scale, human rights violations, rapid and vast increases in international transportation and a boom in global communications.

Scope and application of international lawEdit

Public international law is sometimes called the "law of nations". It should not be confused with "private international law", which is concerned with the resolution of conflict of laws. In its most general sense, international law "consists of rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of states and of intergovernmental organizations and with their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether natural or juridical."

Public international law establishes the framework and the criteria for identifying states as the principal actors in the international legal system. As the existence of a state presupposes control and jurisdiction over territory, international law deals with the acquisition of territory, state immunity and the legal responsibility of states in their conduct with each other. International law is similarly concerned with the treatment of individuals within state boundaries. There is thus a comprehensive regime dealing with group rights, the treatment of aliens, the rights of refugees, international crimes, nationality problems, and human rights generally. It further includes the important functions of the maintenance of international peace and security, arms control, the pacific settlement of disputes and the regulation of the use of force in international relations. Even when the law is not able to stop the outbreak of war, it has developed principles to govern the conduct of hostilities and the treatment of prisoners. International law is also used to govern issues relating to the global environment, the global commons such as international waters and outer space, global communications, and world trade.

Whilst municipal law is hierarchical or vertical in its structure (meaning that a legislature enacts binding legislation), international law is horizontal in nature. This means that all states are sovereign and theoretically equal. As a result of the notion of sovereignty, the value and authority of international law is dependent upon the voluntary participation of states in its formulation, observance, and enforcement. Although there may be exceptions, it is thought by many international academics that most states enter into legal commitments with other states out of enlightened self-interest rather than adherence to a body of law that is higher than their own. As D. W. Greig notes, "international law cannot exist in isolation from the political factors operating in the sphere of international relations".

Breaches of international law raise difficult questions for lawyers. Since international law has no established compulsory judicial system for the settlement of disputes or a coercive penal system, it is not as straightforward as managing breaches within a domestic legal system. However, there are means by which breaches are brought to the attention of the international community and some means for resolution. Traditionally, the Hague has been used as an arbiter in cases of Public International law when possible as all nations have accepted Hague jurisdiction in cases of international law when applicable. (Note, the current state of international law is non binding and nations only follow jurisdiction on treaties, declarations and conventions they have ratified.) International courts may not declare punitive measures, but often act as diplomatic justification for sanctions on a national level.

Law regarding to diplomatic missionsEdit

  • Diplomatic Missions, aka embassies and consulates enjoy extraterritorial status. This means that the missions are exempt from local law and effectively belong to the nation it represents. The host country may not enter the representing country's embassy without permission or they are performing a serious breach of international law and isolating themselves.
  • Diplomatic Immunity ensures that diplomatic are given safe passage and are not susceptible to lawsuit or persecution so they may fufill their duties even in time of tense relations or armed conflicts. Diplomatic Immunity applies only to those with diplomatic credentials; it does not apply to all foriegn nations in a nation, though a visa, something which all foriegn nations in a nation must receive from their host nation, gives them right of passage they may still be persecuted or sued in mosts cases (there are expections explained in private international law applied ad hoc). Immunity is in international law and expected to be reciprocal.
  • A national may formally expel the diplomatic mission of another nation, but they may not force a mission out unless the representing government refuses to move a diplomatic mission, and then diplomatic immunity still applies. It's a complex area of diplomatic protocol and is frowned upon by the international community. Your diplomatic worth takes a beating, businesses are less confident their assets will be protected and so on. That goes whether you are withdrawing your own mission or expelling someone else's from your nation.
  • Though the UN does not exsist, several international organizations do still. INTERPOL, the World Bank and IMF are good examples. Contact me if you want to know if an organization exists.

The Reality of SanctionsEdit

Humphrey, do you think it is a good idea to issue a statement? (as a response to the planned speech of the President of Buranda urging the Scots and Irish to fight against English oppression)

Well, Minister, in practical terms we have the usual six options: One, do nothing. Two, issue a statement deploring the speech. Three, lodge an official protest. Four, cut off aid. Five, break off diplomatic relations. And six, declare war.

Which should be it?

Well, if we do nothing we implicitly agree with the speech.

Two, if we issue a statement we'll just look foolish.

Three, if we lodge a protest it'll be ignored.

Four, we can't cut off aid because we don't give them any.

Five, if we break off diplomatic relations we can't negotiate the oil rig contracts.

And six, if we declare war it might just look as though we were over-reacting.

That is exactly how it works. Every option is either to weak or a gross overreaction. The fun part is manipulating it to make it work.