International Law Consists of Customs  Term Paper

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S. policymakers about the international consensus on questions and issues. The U.S. thus uses international law in its foreign policy and also contributes to its formation and development. This is why it formally recognizes and respects fundamental rules and principles as guide to its foreign policy (Joyner).

However, American foreign policy has not focused very much on international law (Rivkin and Casey 2000). Since the end of the Cold War, many international organization have struggled to modify the traditional law of nations governing the relationships between States into an international regulatory code. This intended and new international law would also govern the relationship between citizens and their government. It would regulate primary domestic issues, such as environmental protection and the rights of children. It would also virtually eradicate the use of military force, avoid all civilian casualties during combat, promote the equitable criminal prosecution of individual state leaders or officials by the courts of other countries or States and by international tribunals. It would also allow or even require international intervention in internal affairs. When appropriately amended, international law would be a real and immediate threat to American national interests (Rivkin and Casey).

This trend is viewed as the act of both the friends and enemies of the U.S. who want an efficient means of checking or at least reduce American power in the world (Rivkin and Casey 2000). It is clear that the major problem confronted by international affairs after the Cold War is the unchallenged military, diplomatic, economic and cultural leadership of the United States. The U.S. administration has generally shown support for the new international law but it has not received proper focus because of huge problems it brings to the U.S. One is that the new international law will open the U.S.' principle of sovereignty to attack and shake the very foundation of its democracy. American leaders view any such limitation on sovereignty as an organizing principle in international law as tantamount to an abdication of the rights of U.S. citizens to be governed only by their Constitution and their leaders. If this limitation is allowed, the actions of the U.S. will cease to be lawful. The ultimate authority will cease to lie in the hands of the American people and shift to international institutions. Despite its humanitarian and democratic slant, the new international law is considered undemocratic from its very foundation. An international system would govern a community of undemocratic nations (Rivkin and Casey).

The new international law would not only undermine American leadership in the current global system but also render the world safe for aggression (Rivkin and Casey 2000). It would restrain countries, which would otherwise be willing and capable to deter and crush aggression. The U.S. is quite wary about creating or cooperating in the creation of judicial institutions to prosecute individual soldiers or officials. According to the "universal jurisdiction" theory, any State or even a foreign magistrate, could initiate a prosecution against American military or civilian officials for violations of international humanitarian rights. If this would be the norm of the new international law, neither limits nor the means to a neutral application could be established. This type of intervention is not likely to create a more just or safe world. Instead, it will incline unprepared or unqualified States to obtain their own weapons of mass destruction as a means to repelling or preventing Western intervention into their own internal affairs. It will establish this type of humanitarian intervention as the rule rather than as the exception (Rivkin and Casey). The court system was intended to resolve disputes between parties by courts with designated authority. But currently, they are being used as a means to transmit moral messages and mere advisory opinions on international human rights and foreign relations. There is no convincing evidence that making an act of war the subject of a civil suit and filed by private litigants is or will be a beneficial law or a beneficial foreign policy (Rivkin and Casey).


Joyner, Christopher C. International Law. Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, 2002. Retrieved on January 1, 2008 at

Mitchell, Paul Andrew. Citizenship is a Term of Municipal Law. Supreme Law Firm:

Supreme Law Library, 2005. Retrieved on January 1, 2008 at

Rivkin, David. B., Jr. And Lee a. Casey. The Shoals of International Law. The National

Interest: The Natinal Affairs, Inc., 2000

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