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COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group Inc. International law is the body of customs, principles, and rules recognized as effectively binding legal obligations by sovereign states and other international actors. International law stems from three main sources: treaties and international conventions, customs and customary usage, and the generally accepted principles of law and equity.
Judicial decisions rendered by international tribunals and domestic courts are important elements of the lawmaking process of the international community. American history confirms that the functions of international law and U. The rules of modern international law are in great part products of negotiations in which U.
To appreciate how international legal rules function in the making and performance of U. The essence of these constraints lies within the nature of the international system. The international system imposes structural constraints on the ability of American decision makers to create legal rules favorable to U.
The enduring feature of the international system is its decentralization. There are no central institutions to legislate standards or to ensure their enforcement. Nor does a common political culture exist in which to anchor an agreed-upon body of norms for governing the behavior of states.