LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More

International relations and International law - a study of necessary Interrelations

This Law -- whether Conscious or Unconscious --predestines nothing and no one. It exists from and in Eternity, truly, for it is ETERNITY itself; and as such, since no act can be co-equal with eternity, it cannot be said to act, for it is ACTION itself...Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position. -Helen P. Blavatsky Secret Doctrine, Vol II, pg. 304-05 International relations: One world, many theories Why should policymakers and practitioners care about the scholarly study of international affairs? Those who conduct foreign policy often dismiss academic theorists (frequently, one must admit, with good reason), but there is an inescapable link between the abstract world of theory and the real world of policy. We need theories to make sense of the blizzard of information that bombards us daily. Even policymakers who are contemptuous of "theory" must rely on their own (often unstated) ideas about how the world works in order to decide what to do. It is hard to make good policy if one's basic organizing principles are flawed, just as it is hard to construct good theories without knowing a lot about the real world. Everyone uses theories-whether he or she knows it or not-and disagreements about policy usually rest on more fundamental disagreements about the basic forces that shape international outcomes.


International law is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and nations. It serves as a framework for the practice of stable and organized international relations. International law differs from national legal systems in that it primarily concerns nations rather than private citizens. National law may become international law when treaties delegate national jurisdiction to supranational tribunals such as the European Court of Human Rights or the International Criminal Court. Treaties such as the Geneva Conventions may require national law to conform. International law is consent-based governance. This means that a state member of the international community is not obliged to abide by international law unless it has expressly consented to a particular course of conduct.[4] This is an issue of state sovereignty. International Law, unlike most other areas of law, has no defined area or governing body, but instead refers to the many and varied laws, rules and customs which govern, impact and deal with the legal interactions between different nations, their governments, businesses and organizations, to include their rights and responsibilities in these dealings . International relations today have become truly international and characterized by a high degree of interaction and interdependence. Clearly the international system is changing in innumerable ways. Old factors are playing new and often reduced roles, and new actors, of uncertain quality and prospects, are appearing constantly. We may be witnessing not only major changes within the system, but a systemic change that in time may produce a new pattern of international relations together. International society is primarily made up of states. It is also made up of international organizations and non- state actors' such as armed groups or business enterprises and individuals' but only in so far as their status, powers, and responsibilities are recognized by states through international law. An essential element of the definition of international law, therefore, is not its subject matter or the type of entities it regulates, but that it is law that is made by states collectively.

No single state acting unilaterally can make international law; neither can a collection of corporations or individuals. In other words, the authority to make international law rests with states acting together. International organizations, individuals, and corporations can all become subjects of international law and have limited powers and international personality recognized under international law. They can also help clarify what international law is by interpreting it or they can appear in international courts. But they cannot make international law. This means that there are no predetermined limits as to what areas international law does or should regulate. This can only be determined through collective agreement amongst states. International Relations have been defined in various ways. Writers differ greatly on the definition of the subject . It appears quite natural, as does Stanley Hoffman says: ''How could one agree once for all upon the definition of a field whose scope is in constant flux, indeed, a field whose fluctuation is one of the principal characteristics." International Relations defined. Prof. Charles Schleicher defines international relations as the relations among States. Quincy Wright defines international politics as "relations between groups of major importance in the life of the world at any period of history." According to Prof. Hans J. Morgenthau, international relations is a struggle for power among nations. Norman Padelford and George Lincoln define international relations as the interaction of State-politics within the changing pattern of power relationships.

However, a good working definition of international relations has been given by Harold and Margaret Sprout. They define international relations as "those aspects of interactions and relations of independent political communities in which some element of opposition, resistance, or conflict of purpose or interest is present." International Political Relations The need for peace, security, development and justice between nations has forever been an object of interest of people involved in problems of international relations. As a result of the present dynamics at play in the global arena, these issues are still current and interesting, whereas concern for the future of the world still keeps experts in the field up at night. If you are curious about the world, especially about the factors that affect contemporary international relations, then this specialty is prepared exactly with you in mind. You will learn how to correctly shape relations between various entities of international life, how to create a correct cooperation between states and international organizations and other entities of political, social and economic life. The relationship between international law and international relations International relations is interested in much broader phenomena than just the legal regulation of international affairs. International relations is interested in understanding how and why states and other actors on the international plane behave in the ways that they do, the nature of the international system, and the role of international actors, processes and discourses. International relations is more interested in what does in fact happen under certain conditions and how we can explain interactions and behaviour in international relations (although some international scholars may also propose how international relations should be conducted and what international institutions we should have). Given this difference in focus in approaching international affairs, three preliminary questions are helpful to think about the relationship between international law and international relations. These are:

1. Are international relations and international law two separate disciplines or are they different approaches within a single discipline?

2. How does the knowledge produced in international relations and international law overlap, conflict, and co-depend?

3. At what point and in what way does international law enter into international relations research?

Are international relations and international law two separate disciplines? International relations and international law are two separate, but overlapping disciplines. Disciplines are a collection of a number of ground rules on how a subject matter is identified and there are invariably disagreements among the members of a discipline about what these ground rules are. How distinct the two disciplines are, therefore, depends on points of view within each discipline. International relations and International law - Interrelations Point of difference International relations International law Disciplinary differences Understanding and explaining international affairs Regulation of international affairs Disciplinary convergences Understanding and explaining international affairs with the aim of its better regulation Regulation of international affairs based on a grounded understanding of current international affairs Description and evaluation of single events Assessment of consequences of events, acts, processes in terms of their broader political significance Assessment of events, acts, processes in terms of their broader legal significance International law and international relations have common concerns as well as key differences. There is not, however, a straightforward answer or definitive list of differences and similarities. Students of both disciplines disagree about the proper boundaries between international law and international relations. More accurately, therefore, there are a number of lists.

Let's start with the most basic similarity. International relations and international law are concerned with international phenomena. They share a curiosity about how we may identify international phenomena and how such phenomena relate to or affect domestic affairs and how domestic affairs inform international phenomena.

Consider the following questions:

What guides the behaviour of actors in the everyday life of international relations?

Why do international organizations exist?

Why have states created and signed up to international treaties in virtually every area of public policy?

What is the significance of one or a collection of powerful states disregarding some established rule of international law?

What are the differences between the powers and capacities of states and non- state actors in international law? These questions are all about international phenomena. They focus on the significance, the role, the added value, and the future of international organizations, international cooperation and international regulation in international relations. It is easy to see why these questions are of interest to both disciplines. International relations seek to understand and explain existing arrangements and institutions at the international level. It also aims to identify patterns or generalizations about behaviour in international relations. Normative branches of international relations aim to identify what duties, rights, and obligations states have towards each other and towards individuals or groups and what principles should govern international institutions and interactions. It is also necessary for international law to understand these because they raise important questions of appropriate boundaries of international regulation. That the two disciplines share an interest in the same phenomena does not necessarily mean, however, that the interest is shared for the same reasons. In conclusion, it is possible to offer a qualified answer to the question of whether international law and international relations are two separate disciplines. Easy or simplistic answers will not do. The answer has more to do with identifying shared attitudes to international affairs in each discipline.



1. International Relations, 3rd Revised Edn., Norman D. Palmer & Howard C Perkins, AITBS publishers,

ISBN:- 81-7473-069-9

2. International Law - Dr. S K Kapoor, Central Law Agency, New Delhi

3. International Law and human Rights -15th Edn. 2008, Dr. H O Agarwal, Central Law Publications

4. Boyle, Francis Anthony. 1985. WORLD POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW. Durham,

NC: Duke University Press.

5. Reus-Smit, Christian (ed.). 2004. THE POLITICS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW.

NY: Cambridge University Press.

6. Scott, Shirley V. 2004. INTERNATIONAL LAW IN WORLD POLITICS. Boulder,

CO: Lynne Rienner.

Mahendra Subhash Khairnar,

Asst. Professor in Law Bharati Vidyapeeth's Yashwantrao Chavan

Law College, Karad (M.S.)

Email Id-

"Loved reading this piece by mahendra khairnar?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"

Tags :

Category Others, Other Articles by - mahendra khairnar