International Law is a mere collection of Principles of Morality

Arguments against International Law:

(1) International Law is a mere collection of Principles of Morality:

Is International Law really a law or not, is a question that has raised a good deal of controversy in the literature of Political Science. Many arguments have been given against the International Law. Political thinkers argue that the International Law is nothing but a mere collection of moral principles because it is a binding on every sovereign state. Hobbes, Bentham, Austin, Professor Holland, Lord Salisbury, Hitler, Mussolini did not regard International Law a law.

Lord Salisbury, while addressing the House of Lords, once said, “I think my Lords, we are misled in this matter by the facility with which we use the phrase International Law. International Law has not any existence in the sense in which the term law is usually understood. It depends generally on the prejudices of the writers of the text books. It can be enforced by no tribunal and, therefore, to apply it to the phrase Law is to some extent misleading”.

(2) British Courts do not recognise it:

While giving judgment in the West Land Gold Mining Company vs. Rex Case, the British Court decided not to recognise any principle of International Law till it is included in the national laws by the British Cabinet. Similarly, Lord Coleridge observed in the Queen vs. Keyn (1876): “Strictly speaking, international law is an inexact expression and it is apt to mislead if its inexactness is not kept in mind. Law implies a law-giver and a tribunal capable of enforcing it and coercing its transgressors. But there is no common law­giver to sovereign states and no tribunal has the power to bind them by decree or coerce them if they transgress.

(3) It is not the law of some sovereign international state:

It is also argued against the international law that it is not the law of some sovereign International state. There is no sovereign international state nor is there any sovereign international government.


Gettell has very rightly observed: “If the legalistic theory by adopted that laws are always commands given and enforced by a definite political sovereign, then international law is not law properly, since that would imply world unity and world sovereignty”.

The term “international law thereby involves a contradiction. If it is international, it is not law, since there is no single sovereign to make or enforce it, if it is law; it is not international but the law of a World state”.

Gettel further observes: “International law is not concerned with the relations of political inferiors, it is not the expression of a supreme will, but the result of the interplay of a number of legally independent powers”.

(4) No punishment if the International Law is violated:

The opponents of International Law argue that the national laws are violated, the law-breakers are punished by the nation. But there is no such provision for punishment in International law. If International Law is violated, no such punishment is given.

(5) There is neither any legislature to make the International Law, nor any executive to enforce it, nor any judiciary to interpret it:

The opponents of International Law argue that International Law cannot enjoy the status of a law because it is not framed by any international legislature, nor is it enforced by any international executive, nor is it interpreted by any international judiciary it is opposed to national laws. National laws are framed by the legislature they are enforced by the executive and are interpreted by judiciary.

(6) International Law is not definite:

The opponents of International Law argue that International Law is not definite as it is passing through the process of continuous development. National laws are just opposed to it because they are quite definite, hence, international Law cannot be regarded as law.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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