International law is the system of rules and principles concerning the relations between sovereign states, and relations between each state and international organisations such as the United Nations.
There are rules of international law that all states are required to observe. This includes rules prohibiting slavery and torture, the use of force, and piracy on the high seas, and the right to self-determination. Such a basic principle of international law, jus cogens, in latin ‘compelling law’, is also known as a peremptory norm.
Other sources of international law are:
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, is authorised to consider these sources when deciding disputes. A decision of the Court has no binding force except between parties and in respect of that particular case: Article 59, Statute of the International Court of Justice. This list does not prevent the ICJ from considering other matters, such as resolutions of the General Assembly of the UN, and it does not identify all the sources of international law.
The UN was established in 1945, with 51 members, including Australia. As at September 2000 it has 189 members. The purposes of the UN are:
The UN Charter established six main organs of the UN:
There are two principal theories that explain how international law becomes part of domestic law:
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