International law and domestic law differ in various aspects. According to Baehr & Smith (1996) the most important difference between the two is based on the fact that international law regulates the relations of rights and obligations among countries and between countries and international organizations. On the other hand domestic law regulates relations among individuals and social entities and the country (Baehr & Smith 1996). Therefore Baehr & Smith said that domestic law is stipulated by a sovereign country for the individuals under its control and they must be under the jurisdiction of one country (1996). In addition Baehr & Smith (1996) noted that the law between countries and individuals is not an object of the international law (p. 153).
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Charlesworth (2005) mentioned that “international law has a complex and often uneasy relationship with domestic law” (p. 1). Charlesworth (2005) says that international law governs international relations. Therefore international and domestic laws are part of the same legal system hence international law is superior to domestic law and it governs in the event of conflict Charlesworth (2005). Over the time there has been some degree of friction or rivalry between the spheres of international and domestic law. Charlesworth (2005) also noted that “the increasing reach between international law regulations has created a competition for normative dominance because the international law is the source of international legal principles” (p. 2).
International agreement is not a law. I have a conditional agreement with the above statement because some international agreements have no stipulations binding the member states or organizations involved. Gaitskell (2006) states that international agreement should seek to give specific legal advice and should be used as a dispute resolution procedure for international contracts for involving large engineering or spatial science projects. Gaitskell (2006) continues to say that the “enforceability of the parties agreement should be bound by the decision of an expert and may depend upon the law which is applicable to the contract” (p. 112). Sedor (1998) also noted that “early consideration of the possibility for international collaboration on large science projects and continuing consultation with prospective partners could help to avoid the problems encountered when partners are sought late in project design” (p.22).
An example of an international agreement is the Helsinki Convention of 1974. Burrough & Masser (1998) established that “the Helsinki Convention of 1974, founded to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea was the first international agreement to cover all sources of marine pollution” (p. 32). The agreement that was reached was aimed at curbing various sources of pollution which came from land, ships and airborne. As a result the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) Baltic monitoring program which supports environmental assessment activities was developed (Burrough & Masser 1998). The convention agreed that there was a need to develop a GIS database which could assist in monitoring various activities within the Baltic Sea region. The participating countries agreed upon the coastline administrative boundaries which they were supposed to monitor pollution and drainage activities in to region and settlements.
In addition this international agreement stipulated there were the practical rules of conduct and legal practices. These rules were supposed to provide guidelines of how to handle violations of these rules and therefore they cannot be referred to as laws. Burrough & Masser (1998) said that sensible solution was designed which was considered to be acceptable to the member states. This therefore implies that the establishment of this agreement was based on the conditions that member states agreed that the agreement was binding. Burrough & Masser (1998) also established that the cartographic database that was created to monitor pollution in the Baltic Sea region was intended to promote various forms of international cooperation, for example and environmental protection of the Baltic Sea. The Helsinki Convention as indicated by Burrough & Masser (1998) emphasized that “the uses of the database included natural resource management, environmental impact assessment, administration and trans-boundary planning” (p. 39).
Sedor (1998) concluded that after an international agreement has been reached at and the rules stipulated, in case of any violations “the decision of arbitrators and judges carry with them the benefit of international enforceability without the parties having to address the underlying merits of the violation” (p. 113). He however said that in some cases it may be possible to obtain a judgment from some expert’s decision or the committee agreed upon by the participating parties during the agreement. Therefore Sedor (1998) indicated that “reliance can be placed upon the judgment or award when seeking to rely upon the relevant convention during any international agreement enforcement” (p. 113). From the above research I therefore support the fact that an international agreement is not a law conditionally because it depends on which areas within the agreement are binding to the parties involved for example countries or multi-national organizations.