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International Law


How relevant is international law to the maintenance of world ‘peace’
and ‘order’ today?


of the world, with completely different political and economic backgrounds,
have formed a true community and a society that needs standard rules for its
orderly development. With the globe getting smaller, and with increasing
contacts and intensified relations, obligatory rules become even more necessary
for the promotion of international cooperation and development and therefore
the shunning of chaos and conflicts. The absence of rules is a request to

as individuals could not live together in a society without laws and customs to
control their actions, States could not have mutual interactions without practises
and conventions to manage their conduct. International law executes state
sovereignty by creating new edifices for regulating relations across
international boundaries. They produce principles for governing international
relations that contend with the core realist principles of sovereignty and
lawlessness. International law derives not from actions of any legislative
branch or other central authorities, but from traditions and agreements signed
by states.  It conjointly differs within
the problems of enforcement, which depends not on the facility and authority of
central government but on reciprocity, collective action and international

law is thus a body of rules established by a custom or written agreement and
recognized by nations as binding in their relations with each other. it is
merely a collection of rules that countries follow in coping with each other. World
peace on the other hand are often seen as an ideal of freedom, peace, and
happiness among and within all nations and/or individuals. World peace is an
idea of universal non-violence by which nations volitionally collaborate,
either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that forestalls

believed that world peace could obtained only through the effort by laws recognised
and agreed upon by the world’s nations. In his book, Peace Through Law, Kelson
borrows from Kant the ideal of perpetual peace and the federalist model, and in
addition to this, the idea of a ‘Weltburgerrech’, a global citizenship in reference to the entire human species.1 He,
Kelsen, believed that in order to gain this world peace being talked about, there
must be a global authority to resolve international disputes and in turn led to
the attainment and maintenance of world peace. With that said, International
Law plays a huge role in the attainment of global peace when the need arises. It
is through the efforts of international law key players and agents, such as the
United Nations and other regional bodies, that most inter-state conflicts are resolved
before anarchy ensues. This is not to say that there is in absolute no trace of
conflicts between some countries. However, these conflicts are better managed
and often fixed by the efforts of agents of international law.

paper will prove that that international law and all of its components are
indeed relevant to this days in the attainment and maintenance of world peace
and global order. This paper will also do well to pinpoint the roles that
international law plays to achieve this and how the absence of the efforts made
can lead to global anarchy rather than the peace so desired.


Sources of
International Law

fully understand the role of international law and its relevance to world
peace, it is best that its origin and sources are outlined. International law has
several sources, some of which include; Treaties, International Customary Law,
General Principles of Law, Judicial Decisions and the Decisions of International
Organisations. Some of the sources of international law contribute to its relevance
in the conservation of peace and order today as they involve, agreements,
practices and precedents between countries and by regional and sub-regional



treaty is an agreement generating binding obligations between subjects of
international law.2
Treaty compliance does not arise out of the threat of military action or
sanctions but from a nation’s desire to develop a reputation for keeping
cooperative bargains. Obeying treaties will identify a nation as a good
partner, making future agreements more likely. Accordingly, the adherence to agreed
upon obligations by the subject countries ensures global peace and order. Consequently,
the absence of which can result in even more global disorder and conflicts.3


General Principles of Law

the statute of the International Court of Justice, this source refers to the
general values of law recognised by civilised nations. The United Nations elaborates
on these principles and maintains that they are “legal beliefs and practices
that are common to all developed legal system. “4 They
are theoretically similar to treaties and customary laws but in practice, they
are used mostly to close gaps left by treaties and customary laws.5
General Principles of Law are also useful in the maintenance of peace and
order. They aid in the determination of the pattern of International Law and
thus act as the underlying values and practices of International Law. In light
of this, these underlying values and practices in turn alter the way peace
negotiations in times of conflict.


Decisions of International Organisations

 International organisations make rules that
guide the operation of its activities as well as guidelines for behaviour among
its members. This therefore shapes the nature of interaction that takes place
between and among members of such organisations. With the increasing
interdependence of states, many scholars like Keohane and Nye are of the view
that this set of rules, principles and guidelines operated by international
organisations have become the grand laws for relations among countries.6 It
is evident that these decisions made by the international organisations, such
as the European Union and the African Union, go a long way to shape the way its
member states relate with each other. This in turn ensures global peace and order.



Idealism can be traced from the works of great scholars like
Condorcet, Roseau, St Pierre, Immanuel Kant, and the ideas of leaders like Winston
Churchill, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It seeks to create a
state of perpetual global peace through the existence of ‘world freedom’. It
desires to eliminate war, inequality of mankind, end tyranny and all that.7
These it seeks to achieve through the establishment of an international
authority for the management of international relations.8 Idealists are
concerned with ethics, and studies man and his institution in their ideal or
normative form, they believed that human nature is essentially ‘good’ or
altruistic and people are therefore, capable of mutual aid and collaboration.
Idealism has some of the following as some of its assumptions:

Human nature is essentially good and capable of
altruism, mutual aid and collaboration.

The fundamental human concern for others makes progress

Bad institutions and structural arrangements motivate
people to act selfishly and to harm others including making wars.

War is not inevitable and that it can be eliminated by
eradicating the institutional arrangement that encourage it.

War is an international problem that requires
collective or multilateral rather than national efforts to eliminate it.

International institution can be created to regulate
activities of actors at the international level.

The relevance of this theory to this paper is
based on the fact that certain laws and institutions were established by states
to maintain orderliness in the world as prescribed by idealists. Such laws were
made by states either through treaties or otherwise to regulate their affairs
with one another.


United Nations

factor that keeps International Law relevant in the pursuit and upkeep of peace
and order on a global scale is the existence of the United Nations.  The United Nations is an international body
established in 1945 with the aim to, among a list of other things, establish
and maintain international peace and security by taking the necessary action to
prevent and remove all threats targeted at the peace desired.9 The
United Nations (UN) has three primary ways of maintaining world peace. These
include; Peacekeeping, Peace enforcement and Arms control. These methods used
by the United Nations assist in peaceful resolution of international disputes,
repel international aggression using military forces when necessary and monitor
the use of nuclear, chemical, biological and other forms of weaponry to avoid
conflicts and hasten resolutions. The absence of the United Nations can lead to
global anarchy and conflicts as it often acts as a mediator between conflicting



The International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA)
is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit
its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was
established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957. Though established
independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty; the IAEA Statute, it IAEA reports to both the United
Nations General Assembly and Security

According to Article II of the IAEA
Statute, the objective of the IAEA is “to accelerate and enlarge the
contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the
Its primary functions in this area, according to Article III, are to encourage
research and development, to secure or provide materials, services, equipment
and facilities for Member States, to foster exchange of scientific and
technical information and training.

It is palpable that the IAEA, like the
other international organisations fostered by International law also
contributes to the maintenance of peace and order in the global society.  



The role
international law plays in maintaining world peace is indeed and clearly a very
important one. These laws were promulgated to ensure orderliness in states’
conducts of their affairs with one another in the international system. Without
these laws, lawlessness will surely be the order of the day. The society will
risk going back to the state of nature which Hobbes described as “life being
short, nasty, poor, brutish, and solitaire”. We cannot, however, deny the fact
that some countries violate some of these laws, but that does not mean that the
laws are not enforceable. There is a fundamental difference between the
existence of laws, and violation of laws as against ineffective enforcement of
laws. We cannot deny the relevance of international law in maintaining world
peace just because a state or group of states is too powerful to violate them
with impunity.

 Against this background therefore, it is
established in this study that international law HAS indeed play a key role and
helped in providing and maintaining good atmosphere for peace to thrive in the
























“IAEA: International Atomic
Energy Agency,” , IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA

Delhunty RJ and Yoo JC, “Peace
through Law – The Failure of a Noble Experiment” (2008) 106 Michigan Law Review

Eagleton C, “International Law
and the Charter of the United Nations” (1945) 39 The American Journal of
International Law 751

Johari JC, International
relations and politics: theoretical perspective in the post-Cold war era(Sterling
Publishers Pvt L 2009)

Keohane RO and Nye JS, Power
and interdependence: world politics in transition(Little, Brown and Company

Mingst KA and Arregui?n-Toft
Ivan M., Essentials of international relations(WW Norton &
Company 2017)

Schreuer C, “Sources of
International Law: Scope and Application” (0ADAD) N/A The Emirates Center for
Strategie Studies and Research

Umozurike UO, Introduction
to International Law(Spectrum Law Publishing 1994)


1 Hans Kelsen, Peace
Through Law (1st edn, Chapel Hill 1944)

Oji Umozurike, Introduction
to International Law (2nd edn, Spectrum Law Publishing 1994)

Robert J Delahunty and John C Yoo, ‘Peace
through Law – The Failure of a Noble Experiment’ 2008 106(923) Michigan Law Review

4 Christoph Schreuer, ‘Sources of International Law: Scope and
Application’ n/a 28(N/a) The Emirates Center for Strategie Studies and Research

5 Clyde Eagleton,
“International Law and the Charter of the United Nations” (1945) 39 The
American Journal of International Law 751

6 Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Power and
Interdependence: World Politics in Transition (1st edn, Little, Brown
and Company 1977)

7 JC Johari , International Relations and Politics:
Theoretical Perspective in The Post-Cold War Era (3rd
edn, Sterling 2012)

8 Karen Mingst and Ivan Arreguín-toft, Essentials
of International Relations (6th edn, W W Norton & Company 2014)

9 Eagleton (n5) 175

10 “IAEA: International
Atomic Energy Agency,” , IAEA:
International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA 1994)

11 Ibid