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International Law And Morality Essay, Research Paper

How Many times as a citizen of this great nation does one hear, I wish America would take care of its problems at home and not everybody else s problems. This attitude leads to ideas such as, International law and morality has nothing to do with me and my family. However, it is said no man is an island, and no country is an island to be left alone. Therefore, as the world becomes a smaller place, the importance of international law, and morality must increase.

In order to understand the importance of international law, one must understand what is international law. International law is, The body of legal rules that apply between sovereign states and other entities having international personality (Britannica). International law has come about because nations feel the need to live together peacefully. However, it has its roots in each country s self-interest, and there is no international law enforcing body. Each state has to adhere to the laws through cooperation. Also, some states have put international law into their jurisdictions.

International law has come about by three processes, international customary law, treaties, and general principles of law. Customary law is sovereignty, recognition, consent, good faith, freedom of the sea, international responsibility, and self-defense among the states. Treaties help to form international law. Treaties are legally binding and may declare, change, or develop existing international law. There are some very important international rules controlled by treaties. Some of these important aspects of treaties are: diplomatic law, immunity, protection of nationals abroad, freedom of commerce, and succession to international rights and obligations. Also, large international organizations help form international law. Organizations such as United Nations play an important role in the development international law. They modify by consent rules of international law (Britannica). However, It has been said by some that international law is not really law. A positive theorist named Austin said that international law does not have proper sanctions and enforcement mechanisms to be law, but this can be dismissed when international law is compared to primitive law. They both have societal organization behind the law, authority to apply sanctions lack of central government, lack of legislature, and the lack of courts with compulsory jurisdiction. Therefore, international law has similarities to primitive law and can be considered a type of legal system (Amerasingh 81-82).

Another aspect of international law is the history of how it has evolved to where it is today. International law is a product of a threefold process initiated in the western world. It was started when the medieval world started to move to a medieval society. Their idea of international law was simple that in the absents of a truce war was the international relations; rulers could treat foreigners how they pleased, and the high seas were no-mans-land where anything could be done. Treaty law was a big feature in medieval international relations. However, the observance of these treaties was in self interest. Grotius wrote, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, which appealed to contemporaries and later generations. In this book, he stressed the self-defeating character of war. He also stressed the importance of sovereignty for each nation, and he blended natural law and Roman law in a way that left important matters in the hands of the states. It is said Grotius is the father of international law because he formed some important ideas in an important time in history (Britannica).

International law has affected many things in our global society. One thing that international law influences are foreign policy. However, foreign policy can affect international law, but what is important is how international law can affect domestic foreign policy. Contemporary international law is peaceful existence between states and the free development of people. The effectiveness of international law on foreign policy in states depends on who is at war and peace in the system. Therefore, the more peaceful states seem to be in more agreement with international law than power seeking states. For example, the realist approach to international law is to seek power in foreign policy and disregard international law and morality. However, war is something that most counties wish to avoid, and most countries must observe international law in order to maintain peace. Therefore, It must be a guiding principle in diplomacy and foreign policy (Tunkin 279-92).

How does international law effect the United states, and how is the U.S. Viewed in the international system? During this past summer the U.S. passed legislation to lift sanctions hampering exports of medicine and farm products to India and Pakistan. That way American farmers could sell their products to Pakistan. American farmers had an abundance of crops and were receiving lower prices for them, so the government lifted the sanctions to help the farmers out in a time of need. America had put sanctions on Pakistan and India for testing weapons in 1994 (Pomper 2). This shows how international law effects us here at home (United States)especially if you are a farmer. Also, according to international law nations can put a person on trial for crimes against humanity. This law says to people, like dictators, you may get away with that in your country, but if you come here, you are going to have to pay the price. For example, the dictator of Chile was found in England extradited to Spain on charges of genocide and torture. This allows the thugs, dictators, and terrorists to know that this is something they cannot get away with (Richey 1). As can be seen, this is just a few examples on how international law is effecting people in our world today. However, international law is not always in our favor or supports our views here in America. The landmine ratification allows a new treaty to become law in 1999. This is against the use of landmines, but the U.S. did not sign the Ottawa Convention against the use of landmines (Birchard 1004). Another issue that was not in American interest was how the U.N. wanted Jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers in criminal court. Clinton rejected this idea, but the court will try to claim jurisdiction over the soldiers overseas anyway. For example, a solider on a peace keeping mission in Iraq could be tried for war crimes. There are those in the U.S. senate that say if the U.S. does not sign the treaty to put their soldiers on trial is against the treaty law (D Agostino 5). Therefore, it can be seen that international law effects everyone here on the planet, and it effects people here in the U.S. also weather good or bad.

Morality is also an important factor in international law. It can be the basis for many laws in the international system. For example, the issue of human rights is important and this is seen in international law. Just like the dictator from Chile, he was tried with crimes against humanity. Also, as countries, they must come to a decision of what is moral, but what is bad to some countries is not bad to other countries. Therefore, is it right to say our western Christian morals are what is right in the world, or is it our Buddhist neighbors to the East that have the correct morals? However, somethings could be agreed on as unethical. For example, what the nazis did during the second world war could be seen as unethical. This is where the world could agree on some international law based on morals. However, morality plays an important role in shaping international law. Also, there is a negative and positive position in international law and morality. The negative aspect comes in when nations think in a self serving way. The main points in the negative position are as follow: national interest, international anarchy, national sovereignty, nationalism, immorality of groups, cultural pluralism. The positive position takes on the point that all humans are brothers and have certain rights. The main points in the negative position are as follows: Natural law, cosmopolitan morality, society of states, the just war, human rights, world order (Maxwell 9-20). However, some bring up the argument what is moral foreign policy? Americans try to carry out moral foreign policy but sometimes it has to be in our self interest (Walden 1-11). It is also said that the disadvantage of moralism is its way of not measuring the possible consequences of pursuing the good, and the moralists are disappointed when things go wrong, and disappointed moralist can become disillusioned cynics (Thompson 4-5). Nevertheless, morality is an important factor in forming foreign policy.

Morality is a good thing, and international law tries to up hold to some standards, but there are times when morality could violate international law. States gained sovereignty in 1648. It is an important part of being a state. However, sometimes this sovereignty is broke when other countries intervene on the basis of humanitarian reasons. What defines when the countries break another s sovereignty? Some cases are obvious like if genocide was occurring, but what about a repressive government? Is that reason enough to break sovereignty (Himes 82). This is a major question in international morality. For the most part, international law up holds morality that most nations can agree upon. However, it does not always do a perfect job in solving humanitarian problems.

If morality and international law did not play a part in the world, some nations would try and over step their boundaries. International law helps to define what countries can and cannot do in the international scene. However, Saying that international law or morality does not affect one is an ignorant statement. As a citizen of a country, what it does effects one directly or indirectly, so whatever role it chooses in international law and morality, it effects one personally. However, do not be ignorant of what goes on in the world because it can and will affect one s life.

Amerasinghe, Chittharanjan. Why international law is law.

Theory of International Law at the Threshold of the

21st Century. Ed. Jerry Makarczy. Cambridge:

Kluwer law International. 1996. 79-88.

Bircard, Karen. Landmine Ratification Allows International

to go Ahead. The Lancet. Vol. 352. Sept. 98: 3.

EBSCOhost. Online. 10. Nov. 98.

Britannica Online. Online. 10 Nov. 1998.

D Agostino, Joseph. U.N. Criminal Court Claims

Jurisdiction Over U.S. Soldiers. Human Events. Vol.

54. Aug. 98: 3-7. EBSCOhost. Online 10. Nov 98.

Himes, Ken. The Morality of humanitarian Intervention.

Theological Studies. Vol. 55. Mar. 94: 81-83.

EBSCOhost. Online 11 Nov. 1998.

Maxwell, Mary. Morality Among Nations. Albany: State of

New York Press. 1990. 9-60.

Pomper, Miles. Pushed by Business Groups, Lawmakers Rush t

to Exemt Farm Exports from Sanctions. CQ Weekly.

Vol. 52. July. 98: 1960-1962. EBSCOhost. Online

11. Nov. 98.

Richey, Warren. The Long Arm of International Law. The

Christian Science Monitor. Vol. 90. Oct. 98: 2.

EBSCOhost. Online 11. Nov. 98.

Thompson, Kenneth. Moralism and Morality in Politics and

Diplomacy. New York: Press of America. 1985. 7-11.

Tunkin, Grigoril. Theory of International Law. Cambridge:

Harvard Press. 1974. 279-282.

Walden, George. The Shoeblack and the Sovereign. New York:

St. Martin s Press. 1988. 1-11.

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