The initial definition of international law had a limited list of subjects. Under the old definition, only the sovereign states were liable to be subject to international law policies. The internal political and geographical units, such as the states within the countries such as the United States, Canada, or Australia, provinces, and regions, were not regarded as the subjects of international law (“International Law” par. 1).
However, the newer definition and approach to international law defines it as a much more powerful force able to enforce policies and confer obligations not only on sovereign countries but also on the intergovernmental organizations functioning internationally and of the separate individuals (“International Law” par. 2).
In the contemporary world, the examples of the actors of international law are such organizations as the United Nations, World’s Health Organization, UNESCO, World Trade Organization, and INTERPOL, to name a few. All of these organizations are present in the Statecraft simulation. The simulator has rules for the launch of the organizations. For instance, the launch of WHO or the United Nations requires the participation of at least 50% of the world’s countries as members.
The United Nations serves to protect human rights and ensure that the world’s countries cooperate peacefully (Briney par. 1-2). Initially, the United Nations developed on the basis of the League of Nations that faded away with the beginning of World War II and destabilization of the world by the Axis Powers that included Germany, Japan, and Italy.
The main moving force that pushed the allies to create the United Nations was a common threat. As a result, after some negotiations, the treaty was achieved. UNESCO is an organization that functions within the United Nations and serves to preserve the cultural valuables of the world and protect human rights. One can say that this international organization and the law it enforces occurred due to the traditions and customs that encouraged every nation to protect its cultural legacy, authentic valuables, and spiritual shrines.
The effectiveness of international law is lower than expected in both the real world and the simulation. In the simulation, the states are motivated to join by the incentives that are not always high. That is why some of the countries do not find it necessary to be a part of international organizations. As for the real world, the prohibition of the use of force to address international conflicts has not reduced the frequency of armed conflicts across the world (“Challenges to the effectiveness of international law” par. 2).
The prohibition of certain types of weapons also did not fully exclude them from the armories of various countries. Discussing the low effectiveness of the international law, some of the experts point out a set of double standards that seems to allow more power to the stronger and more influential states and be stricter towards the actions of the weaker ones (“Challenges to the effectiveness of international law” par. 2). In short, the challenges may be summarized as the lack of enforcement accompanied by the reluctant compliance (“Challenges to the effectiveness of international law” par. 2).
In addition, some of the challenges are particularly difficult to enforce. For instance, the prohibition of the use of weapons automatically exposes the complying states to the risk of being attacked by those who do not want to follow international law. It is practically impossible to convince the states to wait patiently for being under attack and only then launch the responding actions.
Besides, in the real world, international law lacks popularity among the developing nations due to insufficient promotion, the absence of knowledge as to the benefits it carries, and the general unsuitability of this type of law for the environments of the non-Western world. Furthermore, speaking about security issues, one problem that should be mentioned is the so-called “war on terrorism” declares by the USA over a decade ago.
Today, the states of the world (the ones that are affected by it, and the ones that are not) lack the standard procedures to employ for the enforcement of anti-terrorism laws. Besides, the countries that are not affected by this problem are likely to be more reluctant about getting involved in the conflict and would agree to help the victim-states of the conflict only in case of some personal benefits. Finally, in many cases, weaker states would not agree to oppose an aggressor-state if it is much stronger and is located nearby.
Finally, speaking about the laws that are not related to the armed conflicts (such as the global climate change), one may notice that the global community has been just as reluctant and slow to address this problem. One of the challenges to the effectiveness of international law in this area may be the refusal of some states to acknowledge this problem as very serious and requiring immediate collective actions.
There is no difference in whether international law is applied to armed conflicts of climate change. However, it turns out that most of the discussions of the possible laws and standards as to the global problems imply an almost utopian agreement between the diverse states of the world; and that is why the development of practical and useful policies seems rather unrealistic (Mayer 948).
Briney, Amanda. The United Nations. 2015. Web.
International Law. 2015. Web.
Mayer, Benoit. “Climate Change and International Law in the Grim Days.” EJIL (2013): 947–970. Print.