Introduction: What is international law and why does it matter for international relations?

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This introductory chapter provides an overview and a brief history of international law. Why should students of international relations be interested in international law? International politics and international law are so closely intertwined that one cannot be understood without understanding the other. The United Nations describes international law as ‘the legal responsibilities of States in their conduct with each other, and their treatment of individuals within State boundaries’. Just as domestic law frames a political community and regulates relations among its members, international law helps to frame international society, to signal its core values, and to regulate relations among states and other actors. The chapter then considers two philosophical traditions that have shaped the study and practice of international law over the past four centuries: natural law and legal positivism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of International Law
EditorsNicole Scicluna
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9780198791201
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • international law
  • international relations
  • international politics
  • United Nations
  • international society
  • natural law
  • legal positivism


Dive into the research topics of 'Introduction: What is international law and why does it matter for international relations?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this