International Law is the Vanishing Point of Jurisprudence: Explanation, Counterview And Criticism
The phrase "International Law is the Vanishing Point of Jurisprudence"
floated by Holland implies that when we explore the complexities of
international law, we reach the outermost limit or the ultimate frontier of
legal thought and theory. In his view, Holland says that International Law is
the vanishing point of Jurisprudence because there is no judge or arbiter to
decide international disputes. He believes that the rules of International Law
are followed by States by courtesy.
Sir Thomas Erskine Holland, a notable British jurist and International Law
theorist, put forth the intriguing notion that the law governing the
international community finds itself at a perplexing juncture in the realm of
jurisprudence. According to Holland, these two realms, jurisprudence and
international law, exist on divergent paths that seem destined to remain forever
apart. In his view, they occupy opposite ends of a spectrum, rendering their
convergence an elusive and enigmatic prospect.
Let's break down this concept in simpler terms:
Jurisprudence is like the philosophy of law - it's the study of the nature of
law, its principles, and how it shapes societies. When we talk about
jurisprudence, we usually focus on the laws within a single country - the rules
and principles that govern our behaviour and interactions within that nation.
Enter International Law:
Now, imagine zooming out from the laws of one country to consider laws that
apply to the entire world. That's where international law comes into play. It
deals with legal issues that go beyond borders and affect the global community.
So, when we say "International Law is the vanishing point of Jurisprudence," we
mean that international law pushes the boundaries of what we usually think about
when studying laws within a country.
Diverse Legal Systems:
In a single country, we have a legal system that everyone follows. But
internationally, we're dealing with a bunch of different legal systems - each
country has its own way of doing things. This makes international law really
complicated. For example, what might be considered a fair trial in one country
might not be the same in another. So, understanding and reconciling all these
different legal traditions becomes a big challenge.
Think about human rights. Every country has its own ideas about what rights
people should have. But when we talk about international human rights law, we're
trying to set universal standards that should apply everywhere. This is tricky
because different cultures may have different views on what constitutes a basic
human right. So, international law challenges us to find common ground among
diverse legal systems.
Fragmentation and Pluralism:
Imagine trying to juggle multiple balls at once. That's a bit like how
international law works - it's fragmented and pluralistic. Instead of having one
clear set of laws, we have lots of treaties, agreements, and customs that
countries follow. This makes it hard to have a neat and tidy legal system like
we might have in our own country.
Take climate change agreements as an example. Many countries come together to
make agreements on reducing carbon emissions. Each country has its own
commitments, and there's no single world government enforcing these rules. So,
international law involves a lot of negotiation and cooperation among different
Limited Enforcement Mechanisms:
In a country, there's usually a police force or some authority that ensures
people follow the laws. But internationally, it's not as straightforward. There
are no world police making sure everyone plays by the rules. Instead, countries
have to agree to cooperate and follow the laws voluntarily.
We have the International Criminal Court (ICC), which deals with serious crimes
like genocide and war crimes. However, its power is limited because not all
countries agree to be bound by its decisions. Some powerful countries aren't
part of the ICC, which shows the challenge of enforcement on a global scale.
Sovereignty and Global Governance:
Sovereignty is like a country's independence - it's the idea that each nation
governs itself. But international law challenges this concept because it
encourages global cooperation and governance. Issues like human rights,
environmental protection, and international crimes make us question how much
control a country should have over its own affairs.
Look at global health regulations. When there's a pandemic, countries need to
work together to control the spread of diseases. This involves sharing
information and resources, which challenges the traditional idea of absolute
Emerging Legal Concepts:
International law introduces new ideas that might not exist in our own legal
system. It's like exploring uncharted territory. For instance, there's something
called transnational law, which goes beyond individual countries. This could
involve legal issues related to the internet, outer space, or global trade -
areas where traditional legal theories might struggle to keep up.
Think about cyber law, which deals with crimes and issues that happen in the
digital world. Traditional legal theories might not have anticipated the need
for laws about hacking, online privacy, or digital property. International law
challenges us to create new legal concepts for these emerging issues.
We live in a world where everything is connected. The internet, trade, and
communication link us together. International law deals with issues arising from
this interconnectedness. It's like navigating a vast network of legal
relationships that go beyond what we typically think about in our own country.
Consider international trade. Goods and services move across borders, and
countries need to have agreements on how to regulate this. International trade
law involves creating rules for fair and smooth trade relations, requiring us to
think beyond our national borders.
It is now widely accepted that International Law is indeed a form of law. It is
important to acknowledge that International Law does not originate from a
sovereign entity and lacks a mechanism for enforcement. Nonetheless, it can be
argued that International Law is relatively weak in comparison to municipal
laws. Many International lawyers do not support this perspective, asserting that
the absence of strong sanctions in International Law does not imply a complete
lack of enforcement measures.
There are some jurists who do not view international law as the ultimate focus
of jurisprudence. According to them, there exists a distinction between state
law and international law. They argue that the state cannot simply pass
legislation regarding international law, but there is still a mechanism in place
for its enforcement.
"International Law is obeyed and complied with by the states themselves because
it is in the interests of states." They provide the subsequent reasoning for
this particular item.
The verdicts issued by the International Court of Justice carry legal weight and
must be adhered to by nations.
In the event that a state fails to uphold the order or judgment issued by the
International Court of Justice, it is within the purview of the Security Council
to provide its recommendation against said state, potentially leading to further
The States have willingly and mandatorily acknowledged the judicial authority of
the International Court of Justice.
The verdict of the International Court of Justice has been adhered to up until
the present moment.
The development of the system of enforcement, consisting of sanctions and fear,
has taken place.
If there happens to be any sort of danger or potential harm to the tranquillity
and stability of the global community, the Security Council, in accordance with
chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, has the authority to undertake essential
measures in order to uphold or reinstate harmony and welfare on an international
scale. Apart from this, it is important to note that the determinations made by
the International Court of Justice carry immense significance as they are deemed
conclusive and obligatory for all parties involved in a particular disagreement.
The phrase "International Law is the vanishing point of Jurisprudence" has faced
criticism due to its potential oversimplification of the breadth and relevance
of jurisprudence. One notable critique is that the statement tends to disregard
the critical role played by domestic legal systems and their influence on
individuals' daily lives.
Traditionally, jurisprudence revolves around comprehending the essence of law
within the framework of individual nations, delving into matters of justice,
rights, and governance at a local scale. Neglecting the significance of domestic
laws might result in an incomplete grasp of the intricacies of legal philosophy
since local legal systems hold immense power in shaping societal norms and
Furthermore, there are critics who claim that the phrase may exaggerate the
worldwide aspect of law while underemphasizing the significance of having
multiple legal systems. Instead of acknowledging the existence of different
legal orders such as national, regional, and international laws, the phrase
suggests a hierarchical relationship where international law is given more
However, in reality, having multiple legal systems coexisting is recognized by
legal pluralism. Each system contributes to the overall legal landscape. Failing
to consider this complexity could diminish the depth of discussions about
jurisprudence that go beyond just the global scope.
Moreover, the excessive importance placed on international law as the ultimate
focal point may pose a risk of disregarding and devaluing other crucial legal
domains that exist within the confines of our own nation. Jurisprudence
encompasses an extensive array of legal theories, encompassing constitutional
law, administrative law, and criminal law, each possessing its own unique set of
philosophical debates and principles.
A narrow-minded fixation on international law has the potential to overshadow
and diminish the intricate inquiries into jurisprudential matters within these
distinct legal arenas, thereby potentially constraining and restricting our
comprehensive comprehension of legal philosophy in relation to various facets of
society. Essentially, the exclusive concentration on international law within
this phrase might culminate in an incomplete depiction of the wider panorama
that constitutes juridical studies.
The saying "International Law is the vanishing point of Jurisprudence" conveys
the idea that delving into international law poses a challenge to traditional
legal thinking. It delves into the boundaries of familiar legal concepts within
a nation and brings forth complexities such as diversity, fragmentation, and
limited enforcement on a global scale.
Manoeuvring through this vast international legal landscape pushes the limits of
conventional legal thought, causing traditional theories to seem less relevant
or even confrontational in light of the intricate issues arising from global
cooperation and the coexistence of different legal systems.
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