FAQ : Why is International Law not as strong as Municipal Law?

  • July 24, 2017
  • 12:25 pm
  • Kainat Singh


In order to understand why international law does not hold a lot of value as opposed to municipal/domestic law it is important to begin with what the two are and what they constitute.

International law is the law that governs the relations between the various nations. As the name suggests it is the law that is present universally/internationally. Municipal law is the local law of a particular country, which is developed according to its customs and traditions. International law is extremely humanitarian and accommodative.

Municipal law is particular and extremely subjective.

The first and foremost reason why international law is a weak law as compared to municipal law is because it upholds sovereignty. In international law, sovereignty is highest possible principle and it is necessary that nothing is forced upon the county since all countries are their own rulers and thus nobody can force them into becoming a part of any treaty. Even in the International Court of Justice, whenever a case is filed by one country against the other, it is the discretion of the other country to accept the jurisdiction of the international court. As opposed to this, in the municipal law, the opposing party has no right to deny the jurisdiction of coming to the court. When summoned, it is by law that he/she has to come to the court regardless of whatever the circumstance.

Secondly, the next reason why International Law is a weak law is because it has no binding power over its orders. Again, since sovereignty is the primary principal, no decisions can be enforced on a particular country. More over, the maximum sanctions it can create against a country is telling the security council to look into the matter and to try and get the country to inculcate whatever decision the court has given into its functioning. As opposed to this, in Municipal Law, the decision given by the court is binding on the individual. The maximum remedies that an individual has are perhaps to file an appeal to a higher court. The highest court of appeal for example, in India is the Supreme Court. Once the Supreme Court has given the decision, it will be binding on all individuals. The individual can also be punished for not following the orders of the court since that order is final and no exception will be made on any basis.

Another problem that comes in is that while international law talks about its aim as being international peace and security, it has in no way made wars tone down or helped maintain the same. It is necessary to realize that International law is vague and hazy and that in no way can any of the international organisations intervene in volatile domestic situations of different states primarily because the principle of sovereignty has to be upheld. And thus International Law is a weak law as opposed to the more rigid and specific Municipal Law.