Professor: Dr. Jones |
Clifton R. Cooper Jr.
For many years, Greece and Turkey have found themselves glaring uneasily at each other. Under the Aegean Sea between them, oil could be found. The question came up, “who owns it?” Both countries claimed the areas as being within their territorial waters. Billions of dollars were at stake. Wars have been started for less; and, the two countries have a long history of bitter hostility towards each other. Instead of reaching for their guns, however, the two countries reached for their lawyers. War was a last resort that neither country could afford. To resolve a situation such as this, countries hire international lawyers, appoint court law professors, measure their continental shelves, and haggle until issues get resolved. Much better than fighting, countries turn economic and political disputes into legal and technical disputes. In essence, they take some of the tension out of the situation. International Law (IL) may or may not eventually settle, in this case, which country has the undersea drilling rights. More important than the drilling rights issue is the fact that the two states wish to avoid war, and they find IL a convenient mechanism to do that. Some people, who dismiss IL as weak and ineffectual because it lacks the authority and sanctions of domestic law, fail to grasp its basic purpose.
International law regulates exchanges between states in predictable ways if existing law is followed or a new law is created. Bluntly put, IL allows countries to page through law books instead of marching their troops through war disputes. If both countries use IL, they avoid war; and, what is wrong with that? If you think about it for a minute, is that not what domestic law does? Instead of obtaining satisfaction through dueling, rivals obtain it in court. The same anger present in duels is present in