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Development Of Law At An International Level

Development of Law at an international level

Ever since the earlier times, the law has evolved not as a uniform pattern but through the process of customs, usages, and tradition; the earliest development of law can be attributed to the river valley civilizations.

The most prominent river valley civilizations were:

  • Indus valley civilization (present-day Punjab - river Indus)
  • Mesopotamian civilization (modern-day Iran - river Tigris & Euphrates)
  • Chinese civilization (China: Yellow river region - north, Yangtze valley region - south)
  • Sumerian civilization (modern-day Syria - river Tigris & Euphrates)
  • Egyptian civilization (now Egypt - river Nile)
  • Roman civilization (Central Rome - covering the entire Mediterranean basin)
  • Greek civilization (present-day Greece and the western coast of Turkey - Mediterranean & along the coast of Black sea)
However, when it comes to international law, the earliest civilizations were guided by the ideas of customary norms, rules, and regulations.

One of the most commonly accepted principles or norms of international law was the doctrine of PACTA SUNT SERVANDA, which means all treaties have to be followed in utmost good faith.

Another rule which has been followed as a custom by the nations is the rule of diplomatic protection.

Apart from these two rules, one more customary norm or rule which is followed by all the countries is the rule of respecting each other's territorial sovereignty and integrity.

Use of force or even threatening to use force is not allowed under international law.

This customary norm is also a part of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and was also led down by the ICJ in the famous Aerial Atlantique Case (1999).

However, when it comes to a codified set of laws, it is said by a Mesopotamian king by the name of King Hammurabi, who came up with a codified criminal law known as Hammurabi's code of law. Hammurabi's code of law was a set of criminal laws and believed in a retributive system of justice delivery.

[eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. harsh punishment is given, so the person improves]

When we talk about a developed legal system, the ancient Roman civilization, under a king called Augustus Caesar, initially developed a legal system known as the Civil Law System.

Later, the civil law system spread to other parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Development of Law During the Medieval Times

  • The period of the 11th to 14th Century was a period of dark ages for the entire European continent
  • Europe was facing frequent civil wars and was also struck down by the bubonic plague, an epidemic that wiped out a majority of the population.
  • In this regard, the first changes occurred in Europe, with the development of printing presses and the industrial revolution, which initiated the renaissance of industrial awakening.
  • Universities and institutions of higher education also developed, and eminent thinkers including Vitoria and Hugo Grotius started writing about Natural Law and Natural and Natural Rights.
  • During this time, many legal experts and jurists also started challenging the control of the Church, clergy, and the Vatican City and condemned the superstitious beliefs of the church
  • During this time, a prominent Dutch Jurist by the name of Hugo Grotius was one of the first exponents of the ideas of International Law or the law of nations being a specialized area of law.
  • Hugo Grotius was also of the opinion that countries should not resolve frequent use of wars and must respect each other's territorial sovereignty.
  • In a very famous book called De Jure Belli Ac Pacis, he laid down some of the earliest concepts of state sovereignty, respect for rule of law, and the concept of non-use of force against each other.
  • He also propagated and came out with the concept of freedom of high seas.
  • The concept of Freedom of high seas clearly points out the fact that the high seas were the common heritage of mankind and cannot be claimed by any one country.
  • Therefore, it is a very common opinion that International Law is closely associated with Hugo Grotius and who is the father of International Law.
  • The treaty of Westphalia, 1648 is one of the most important provisions of treaties, which brought peace and stability in Europe in 1648, after a series of wars in Continental Europe. The treaty of Westphalia which was signed between European powers was the 1st attempt under the law of nations to respect the territorial sovereignty and integrity of each other.
  • The treaty of Westphalia is also important because of the following facts:
    • Non-use of force or the threat of the use of force against each other.
    • Recognizing the concept of territorial sovereignty and integrity.
    • Encouraging parties to peacefully resolve the disputes under International Law.
  • Many provisions of the treaty of Westphalia are now incorporated in modern treaties and conventions, including Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter.

Ideas Of John Austin Vision Of International Law

  • John Austin, one of the most famous thinkers of medieval times, was highly critical of whether International Law was a proper law or not.
  • Austin was of the view that law was the command of the sovereign, and in the absence of any sovereign, International Law was not a proper law.
  • He was also of the opinion that in the absence of any enforcement mechanism or authority, it was very difficult to classify International Law as a proper law.
  • It was because of this reason that John Austin called International Law a positive morality.
  • This view of Austin was also shared by Jeremy Bentham and Hobbes.
  • Another jurist called Thomas Holland also said that "International Law is the vanishing point of jurisprudence" because many areas of International Law were completely uncodified, did not have a clear thinking process, and did not have a controlling authority.

The French Revolution

  • The importance of the French revolution arises from the fact that it directly challenged the authority of the king the bourgeoisie (the elite class) and also propagated the ideas of justice Liberty and Fraternity, brotherhood, and good conscience.
  • The French Revolution was an assassination movement by the French people against the rule of the Louie Family, specifically Louie XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette.
  • The French people were also protesting the authoritarian rule of the royal family, and especially the foolish policies of Marie Antoinette.
  • The ideas of the French Revolution later inspired many other countries, including Italy, Germany, and Turkey. In Italy, 2 revolutionaries, Guiseppe Garibaldi and Mazzini, unified all the Italian-speaking kingdoms to form the country of Italy in 1860. They were inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution.
  • In 1871, Otto Von Bismark unified all the German Speaking kingdoms to form the federal republic of Germany.
  • In turkey after the First World War, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Ataturk: Father of Modern Turkey), Saad Zaghul Pasha, Ismit Pasha, Enver Pasha inspired the Turkish people to come together after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War and create a new and strong country of Turkey.

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