Chapter-1 DEFINITION AND CONCEPT OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 1. Definition: International Law or the law of Nations as it was called, have been given many definitions. The understanding and the definition changed with the development of time. Here is the small effort to carve out certain important definitions as given by certain very famous scholars of their times. Oppenheim “Law of Nations or International Law is the name for the body of customary and treaty rules which are considered as binding by the state in their intercourse with each other.” There are three main elements present in this definition— 1) Body of rules governing the relation between the states. 2) States regard them binding in their relation with each other. 3) Rules are derived from customs and Treaties. Criticism 1. This traditional definition of International law given by Oppenheim does not take into consideration International Organization and Institutions. 2. Individuals are also not recognized as the subject of International law. 3. Customs and Treaties are not the only sources of International law. There are other sources too. 4. International law is not static as given in this definition ( body of rules) as law is an ever changing concept. 5. MNC’s are also excluded from this definition.
Sir Robert Jennings and Sir Arthur Watt revised this definition of International law as— “International Law is the body of rules which are legally binding on states in their intercourse with each other. These rules are primarily those which govern the relations of the states, but states are not the only subject matter of international law. International Organization and to some extent; also individuals may be subject of rights conferred and duties imposed by international law. Starke “ International law is that body of law which is composed for its greater part of the principles and rules of conduct which states feel themselves bound to observe, and therefore do commonly observe in their relation with each other and which also includes— 1) The rules relating to the functioning of international organization and international institutions, their relation with each other and their relations with state and individuals. 2) Certain rules and law relating to Individuals and non state entities so far as the rights and duties of such individuals and non state entities are concern of the other international community. Criticism This definition has its own limitations as to it enumerates the subjects of International law and in case there is an entity whose rights and duties are not enumerated, starke definition will fail. Schwarzenberger “International Law as the body of legal rules which apply between sovereign states and such other entities as have been granted international personality.” Whiteman defined International Law as-- The standard of conduct at a given time, for states and other entities subject thereto.
On the basis of above definition we may conclude that international law is a body of rules and principles which regulate the conduct and relations of the members of international community. The contention that states alone are the subject matter of international law is not only inconsistent with the changing nature of international law but has become completely obsolete and inadequate. Individualistic character of international law is being replaced by the law of social inter-dependence. International law has been remarked as a “ living and expanding code”. In view of some changing character and expanding scope of international law today, international institutions, some non state entities and individuals have also become the legitimate subjects of international law. Thus, international law is constantly evolving body of norms that are commonly observed by the members of international community in their relation with one another. These norms confer rights and impose obligations upon state and to a lesser extent, upon international organizations and individuals....
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