Why International Law Doesn`t Work

Additional Protocol I clarifies and extends the Geneva Convention to take account of the technological evolution of international warfare after the Second World War. Additional Protocol II aims to better protect victims of international conflicts. If international law has a problem in this sense, one solution is to apply international human rights law more effectively: this would benefit not only human rights, but international law as a whole. Nevertheless, the creation of a truly effective international system to uphold human rights seems unlikely. A more complicated option is to find ways to promote and protect human rights that do not depend on binding norms of international law, including regional human rights courts and tribunals, national laws and constitutions, capacity-building and iterative interactions with review bodies. the application of flexible commitments, etc. Thanks to the successes of the international human rights movement, there are a variety of instruments that improve global human rights practice. While we have not yet seen whether these mechanisms will work if decoupled from binding international legal obligations, it is clear that we should understand international human rights law as part of a broader international legal system. The debate on international law and human rights should be reshaped to take into account not only the potential benefits to human rights, but also the potential costs to international law as a whole. The demonization of crack cocaine has led to lower rates of use: the decriminalization of marijuana has broadened its social acceptance, even leading presidents to admit that they use it. Of course, it makes no sense to deny international law the same opportunity to promote a change in behaviour that we have given to national law. If we look at the actions of the United States in the wake of the attacks of 11 September, we see a clear change in the administration`s attitude towards international law. During the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration sought to delegitimize al-Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents` claims to protect the Geneva Conventions once they were overtaken, and to defend the government`s policy of enhanced interrogation.

Before we go on, it is important to remember that the United States played a leading role in authoring the Geneva Conventions and the institutions that emerged after World War II. The CAT and other similar attempts to create binding principles of international law are desirable guidelines at this stage. Even where explicit attempts have been made to create a universal implementation mechanism, the Convention has not achieved its objective of effectively influencing State action. While proponents may invoke international norms or the promise of legitimacy that creates pressure to join and obey the CTC, these factors are little more than negative externalities that can be addressed either through explicit policies or behind the scenes. In such cases, international law may have great moral legitimacy, but the ability of States to ignore it in pursuit of their own interests shows that international law is a guideline rather than a true “law”. The ICJ has settled disputes between states on several occasions.