International law can be divided into two main branches; public international law and private international law. According to Corel University Law School, Legal Information Institute; public international law, oversees matters of rights between nations and citizens or subjects of other nations whereas, the latter deals with conflicts between private individuals arising out of circumstances of key importance to more than one nation. Over time the line between private and public international laws has been growing thinner with issues of private international law now linking with those of public international law.
This is because the international community finds many matters of private international law of significance to them. In a nutshell, international law governs human actions and interactions at the global heights. For a long time since its inception in the 16th Century, international law consisted of policies and regulations governing interactions between nations until recently when the law was redefined to incorporate relations between states and individuals as well as relation between international institutions.
International law has received its share of criticism with the emergence of a school of thought holding that it was mechanism designed by developed countries purposefully for colonization in the modern world. In his book; Imperialism, Sovereignty and the making of International Law Anghie argues that “the colonial confrontation was central to the formation of international law and, in particular, it’s founding concept, sovereignty. He goes ahead to argue that international law is a modern way of governing non-European people, that economic exploitations and cultural erosion that resulted from the same were strategically important for the discipline. Contrary to Anghie’s thinking, international law would otherwise be a benevolent undertaking had it not been demonized by powerful states to achieve 21st century colonialism. The concept of international law obviously conflicts with the fundamentals of sovereignty which also means independence.
This is to say that a sovereign state should be free to run its domestic affairs free from hindrances by outside authority. The proponents of international law may have worked on the assumptions that the sovereignty of a state is not only founded on the self-governing will of its sovereign, but also on its position in relationship to several other states. This implies that if a certain country comes up with policies which are likely to affect its neighbors or other countries then its sovereignty can be subject to violation when international law intervenes.
Nonetheless, the general belief is that a state should be able to do whatever it pleases within its territories. It is important to mention that sovereignty of a state means it is free to use its resources for its own prosperity without interference from outside powers. However, developed states have in many occasions meddled in the economic affairs of third world states. It is by right that a third world states control all that is within their territories without interference from developed countries.
International law, through international business law paves way for exploitation of third world countries by their developed counterparts. Interdependence is a word strategically coined by developed states to cover up for their deeply buried conspiracy aimed at reaping resources from developed countries under the cover of globalisation. Hopefully, out of their own efforts, third world states may eventually grow to the level of being powerful. In the contrary, world super powers are not stupid to let third world countries grow to be as powerful as them.
Because of this insecurity, they invent laws and lie to third world states that it is for the good of the world when the underpinning motive is to increase dependence by developing countries on the world powers. Even if these countries develop, they will be under control of developed states. A good example is the claim by developed countries in favor of their investors on foreign territories. The claim by capital-exporting countries is intended to limit a country’s sovereignty to impose limitations on foreign investors (Sornarajah 136).
This may sound as a generous thought to open up equal playing grounds for signatories of international law. However, consider the fact that capital-exporting countries are the world superpowers hosting numerous billionaire investors just looking for places to multiply their billions. Some of these multibillion businesses are state owned corporations. With this kind of law, the world powers will establish multibillion corporations in third world territories in the pretext of privately owned investments.
They will offer employment opportunities, good health facilities, education, housing, infrastructure to millions of natives of third world states. Because most third world governments are unable to offer basic needs for their populace, these international corporations will win the hearts of many in third world states. Although political rule will be retained by the hosting governments, such multibillion corporations will have unprecedented control not only over citizens whom they will have won their trust, but also over government policy decisions.
By that time, third world states will be literally foreign territories of developed states. Of course a few rich individuals from developing countries will have benefited from this law and established businesses in developed countries. However, because their native governments will be lacking both economic and political powers, their activities will be highly controlled by the host governments keeping them from making any breakthroughs. This treaty might also limit a state’s ability to use domestic legal facilities on foreign investors who break the law since they will be under protection of international law.
This is based on the belief that any grievance against an investor operating under international law is an injury to his native country. International law therefore was only formed with the excuse of interdependence between signatory states with the hidden purpose to reintroduce a modern style of Colonialism being witnessed today. In the modern world, economic sovereignty is paramount to any form of sovereignty. Political sovereignty in the 21st century is worthless without economic independence. It is because of this that developed countries continue to come up with selfish policies with the excuse of interdependence.
For this reason most third world countries brag of political independence but when they cannot provide for their citizens, they seek shelter from the economic giants who do not offer anything without conditions. Developed countries will always do this through economic sanctions such as freezing donor aid which when implemented cripples the operations of third world states. Nye states that although the potential for benefits in interdependence exist, the potential for tragedy exists as well (179).
Nye goes to the extreme to refer to the negative results of interdependence not merely as losses, which would be the opposite of benefits, but tragedy. Tragedy can also be a disaster, catastrophe or misfortune. The after effects of a disaster are usually devastating and repairing the mess requires extraordinary measures usually taking a longer period of time. The shocking thing is that whereas developing countries are obeying international law, developed countries can violate it and get away with it. Israel has been in the headlines for many years over Gaza strip conflict with Palestine’s.
The attacks have led to serious violation of human rights and international law. Atrocities committed along Gaza Strip are worrying and one would wonder why Israel is being excused from war crimes trials. Up to date, the international judges still seem to be wondering if Israel has committed enough crimes to be subjected to trials. On the other hand, the United States of America reciprocated against Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks on America’s soil and many innocent lives were lost. Most worrying is human rights violations by US soldiers against war prisoners and terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
In 2001, hundreds of Taliban prisoners of war were suffocated to death after they were imprisoned inside metal containers by US military in the Afghan town of Kunduz. Instead of being charged with human rights violations, the world superpower arrested Saddam Hussein and had him hanged to death for war crime charges during his regime. Meanwhile the international law is in full force in developing countries. International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant of arrest against Sudan’s re-elected leader Omar alBshir over war crime related charges.
Currently, the ICC is also investigating human rights violations during the 2007 post election chaos in Kenya and is expected to take in suspects by September 2010. Efforts by the ICC to arrest perpetrators of violence are all in good faith, but how about the rich countries which commit the same crimes? Whereas it will be extremely difficult for a country which has cut off itself from the rest of the world, international law deprives nations from exercising their sovereignty within their territories with respect to the locally prevailing circumstances.
The international law in large part works in favor of the developed countries and does not result in the desired interdependence which will empower weak nations. Nations should be empowered to be able to independently and decisively handle their economic, political and legal activities without interference from outside forces which may not understand the prevailing circumstances. It is only when they are empowered that they will be able to have the bargaining power which is critical for interdependence at the international level.
Courtney from Study Moose
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