The Differences Between International Law And Domestic Law

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At the most basic level the difference between international law and domestic law is clear; international law concerns itself with those rules and regulations governing the relationships between states, and to a lesser extent, between individuals from foreign states, whereas domestic law primarily deals with internal affairs. However, while the definition of domestic law is somewhat intuitive, scholars and legislators alike find it more difficult to explicitly define the term ‘international law’. As defined by (The American Law Institute, 1987), international law ‘consists of rules and principles of general application dealing with the conduct of states and of international organizations and with their relations inter se, as well as with some of their relations with persons, whether natural or juridical’. While this definition mentions individuals, it must be noted that it has been quite limited to date in this regard; international law has traditionally focused primarily on states (Lee, 2007)
When trying to identify the relationship between domestic and international law, there are two schools of thought that prevail: dualism and monism. The former holds the notion that international and domestic law ‘exist as two separated, distinct sets of legal orders’, whereas with the latter the systems essentially converge, the international and national seen as ‘one unitary, coherent system’ (Müller, 2013). Distilling this further, we ask in each system if there were a conflict
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