The Sources of International Law

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Commonly known as international law, public international law is responsible for guiding the relationship between states. Mostly, it is a source of law that impacts upon domestic law that is made within a state, court of individual states as well as the government. Traditionally, international law has been recognized as the law that states make for governing their interstate relations and therefore the states acts as both the subjects and creators of these laws. Throughout history, every society has created a framework of principles as well as rules through which it governs itself.

Today, states have a number of rules called the law that regulates lots of aspects of lives. For instance, these laws control the governance structure within the state and employ these laws to regulate a different aspect of life in the state. However, the international law is basically about the relationships that a state has with another. Given the fact that a state is a self-governing entity, it is able to create laws within its borders which means that it is sovereign. The fact that states have their own ambitions and interests meant that their governing can affect their interaction with each other. The key purpose of the international law is to regulate how the sovereign states relate and interact with one another (Burley 13). Since the international laws are created by the states, there is no bigger power source as the states consider themselves as equal partners and therefore it is the choice of state to follow or not follow the international law. The basic fact of international law is that every state is sovereign which meant that a state is in control of its property as well as its people within its borders. Mostly, international laws are not broken as states see the short term benefits of breaking international law as weaker compared to the benefits of retaining strong ties (Burley 19). Thus, the key purpose of international law is to maintain order as well as promoting corporation between states.

Outline the sources of international law using examples.

There are three sources of international laws. These sources include general principles of law, treaties, and customary international law. Treaties can be described as agreements between states in writing which is governed through international law. There are also times when treaties are made between international organizations intended to create legal duties and rights (Thirlway 12). Through a treaty, the responsibilities that the states have are outlined in a similar manner as the contract between two parties is defined. Key examples of a treaty include the Treaty of Versailles, and the UN Charter.

The customary international law is also an international law source. However, in most cases, it is less concrete in form compared to a treaty as much is unwritten. Furthermore, customary laws may change at some time depending on the society as well as legal behavior among the different states. For a law to be referred to as a customary international law, it has to demonstrate state practice as well as the opinion of law (Burley 13). Some practices are debatable on whether they can be said to constitute customary laws, for instance, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and genocide. An example of customary law is the prohibition against torture.

General principles of law are also sources to international law. There are situations where there is no law to resolve cases when a court factor in an issue which forces the judges to infer the existence of general law principles within the legal system for filling gaps. A good example is good faith since states have to have confidence and trust in each other for them to co-operate (Thirlway 26).

Question 2

a) legislative competence

Legislative competence comes in handy in making certain laws in any issue in Scotland. When it comes to the devolution in the UK, Scotland can be termed to have legislative competence in a certain area of law in case it has the power to make law on certain matters (Horne and Gavin 197). The Scotland Act 1998 has a power limit past which the Scotland Parliament to legislate on section 29 which is referred to as a limit to legislative competence. In case a law is made without the legislative competence, it is termed as void which means that it does not have a legal effect.

b) Limits of the Scottish Parliament

i.    To establish its own quotas on fishing, in contravention of EU law

According to section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998, the Scottish parliament cannot establish its own quotas on fishing in contravention of EU law. This is because one of the key limits to legislative competence is that any legislation has to be well-matched with the European Convention on Human rights as well as with the EU law and therefore contravention of EU law would be a limitation for the Scottish Parliament (Hemsworth and Munro 169).

ii.    To introduce a law establishing grammar school education in England

Section 29 also states that the Scottish Parliament can only legislate for, or in relation to, Scotland and therefore it does not have the legislative competence to introduce a law establishing grammar school education in England since England is not in Scotland (Himsworth and Munro 169)

iii.    To introduce a law to establish a monarchy in Scotland

Schedule 5 states that while the Scottish parliament operates on a reserved power model, it cannot make laws in certain areas such as establishing a monarchy in Scotland as the United Kingdom Parliament has kept the power of making laws in such areas (Himsworth and Munro 169).The Scotland parliament can only pass laws that are devolved to it and establishing a monarch is not one of them.

iv.    To pass a law which makes speaking negatively about the new monarch a treasonable offense

Section 29 also states that the Parliament of Scotland cannot make laws in relation to reserved matters and therefore it cannot pass a law which makes speaking negatively about the new monarch a treasonable offense Himsworth, C. M. G., & Munro,

Question 3

Legal skills

Having covered factors like organization, note taking and reading methods on legal skills one, I have used these skills in ensuring that I take important notes in class and later use them in my revision. Note taking has come in handy in ensuring that I do not miss on important factors especially those that the lecturer insists on while studying material block 1. On the other hand, applying the reading methods studied in legal skill 1 ensure that I do not waste a lot of time on irrelevant matters as I can identify the key subjects and points while studying.

Word count: 1100

Work cited

Burley, Anne-Marie Slaughter. "International law and international relations theory: a dual agenda."The Nature of International Law. Routledge, 2017. 11-46.

Himsworth, C. M. G., & Munro, C. R. (1999). The Scotland Act 1998. Edinburgh: Green/Sweet & Maxwell.

Horne, Alexander, and Gavin Drewry, eds. Parliament and the Law. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.

Thirlway, Hugh. The sources of international law. OUP Oxford, 2014.

December 12, 2023

Government Law

Subject area:

International Law

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