Sources of International Law

Treaty Laws:

Treaties are written instruments in which various parties agree to adhere to its negotiated terms’ mandates. They are inclusive of various written instruments such as agreements, covenants, charters, and in some cases, written acts (Scott & Boisselle, 2019). Some of the most famous examples of treaties include the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter. Treaties are one of the most common sources of international laws. They may be categorized into two broad categories; bilateral treaties and multilateral treaties. Bilateral treaties denote treaties that are strictly between two states. In most cases, bilateral treaties are developed when there are existing conflicts between two states, thereby necessitating the need for diplomatic negotiations to form solutions in the form of treaties. However, not all bilateral treaties are derived from conflicts. Some are from two states sharing common interests or goals, thereby making them form an accord that would achieve the common goal or interests.u00a0


On the other hand, multilateral treaties denote treaties that are between more than two countries or parties. While both bilateral and multilateral treaties are common, multilateral treaties are increasingly famous than the latter. Examples of notable multilateral treaties include the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1982 United Nations Conventions on sea laws. These multilateral treaties had more than 100 parties, which led to its mandates being international laws. To date, most countries globally adhere to the mandates of these international laws. In multilateral treaties where most countries enter, states that fail to ratify or otherwise sign the treaty are not bound by its mandates. However, in some cases, states that signed the treaty may withdraw from the international organization, thereby removing them from the treaties’ legal bounds. Therefore, the bases of treaties are on the consent of the various parties that bound themselves to its mandates and execute them in good faith. While treaties are critical documents that form international laws, there is no specific procedure for forming a treaty. They may be simply drafted through the involved parties’ collaboration and concluded then made into law after the various parties consent to the draft, exchange instruments, and sign the draft. There may be a termination or suspension of a treaty if consented by all the available parties in rare cases.u00a0


Customs is another source of international laws. It denotes the general practice that has been accepted as law. In retrospect, customs can be a source of international law when established by national practice in various countries and has legal intension. Customs that may act as sources of international law may have two crucial elements; the evident practice and the acceptance by nations that practice the customs as laws. The first element, the evident practice of nations, otherwise referred to as material fact, entails various facets such as generality, consistency, and repetition of a given behaviour by the parties. These facets prove crucial in determining whether the practice has the ability to form a binding international custom, thereby resulting in the formation of international law (Shaw, 2017). According to an evaluation by Shaw (2017), the International Court of Justice mandates the need for the uniform and constant use of a given customs for it to be deemed an international law. However, the process of forming international customs to the law may fail to have uniformity across the board.u00a0

General Principles of Law:

The general principles of law are a source of international laws commonly acknowledged by civilized nations. According to an evaluation by Shaw (2017), general principles principally offer mechanisms that aid in addressing international issues that are not part of a treaty or any binding international customary mandates. Therefore, they may arise through international law or municipal law that transform into international laws. In various cases, general law principles are deemed inspirational rather than direct sources of international law. Nevertheless, they may act as facilitating factors to international laws. Some of the most common general principles of law that have acted as sources of international laws include the principle of equity, the principle of equality, and the principle of estoppel. However, Shaw (2017) reveals that one of the most important general principles of law that act as a source of international law is the principle of good faith. The principle of good faith has been internationally embraced since it helps govern the creation and performance of most mandates and legal obligations. It is also a crucial principle used in treaty laws. On the other hand, the principle of equity is important since it offers flexibility within international laws, thereby promoting international laws’ applicability and enforcement.u00a0

Other Sources:

Other sources of international laws include judicial decisions, scholarly writings, and other mechanisms such as organizational procedures. Shaw (2017) reveals that municipal judicial decisions and international judicial decisions may act as platforms for establishing international laws. In municipal judicial decisions, there might be the applicability of international legal mandates, which may promote clarity and consistency in various cases. Organizations such as The Hague may be put in this category. The Hague may act as a source for international law, especially when dealing with cases that prove to have consistency and clarity.u00a0

Emmanuel Addo

Emmanuel Addo is the founder of the Young Global Leaders Network, an international non-governmental organization registered in six (6) countries namely, Ghana, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan and has a membership strength of over 15,000 young black professionals, students, graduates, and aspiring leaders.

The organization also operates in 25 other African countries. Emmanuel also doubles as the chief convener and founder of the Young African Leaders Summit, one of the largest continental youth summits in Africa.  

Currently works at Kingston University as a Business Engagement Team Member in their Partnerships and Engagement Department. 

He characterizes energy, integrity, result-oriented, and ground-breaking service in each detail of strategic management, change management, stakeholder management, and leadership acquaintances.
Emmanuel owns a core background in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Ghana.

Leveraging his experience as a youth activist and a dynamic young man, Emmanuel founded the Young Global Leaders Network, a youth organization that comprises young diplomats, young politicians, and aspiring politicians, business/entrepreneurial business leaders with the aim of championing a mutual agenda for the African youth and promoting youth participation in governance as well as promoting entrepreneurial culture.
Emmanuel nurtures an environment of teamwork and has expertise in data collection and analysis as well as both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Emmanuel worked as an Associate Lecturer at the London College of Advanced Management where he delivered a wide range of business management courses that involved principles of marketing, leadership, operation management, and research methods. Emmanuel has always maintained high teaching and learning standards to ensure that his students’ stand out in academic achievements and successful progression. As a stout believer and passionate key player in volunteering; Emmanuel creates quality time to giving back gladly to his community what he has learned and to educate individuals with free consultancy on career development. He is a leader anyone would love to look up to and with great integrity, commitment, and passion to make the world a better place.
Emmanuel worked as Qualifications Manager at the Open University in the UK.

Emmanuel is also the founder of Kickstart Innovation Hub Ltd, the entrepreneurial hub of Young Global Leaders Network.