The positive, beneficial functions of IR law.

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The impact of international laws has been felt since thousands of years back when ancient kingdoms used treaties, the barest form of international laws, to codify their relations. International laws formulate how states interact and relate with each other in global commons such as international waters, world trade and environmental cleanups amongst others. Without this area of law, this world as it is would be in disarray.

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According to Hoffmann (1968), many interstate conflicts are resolved amicably with the help of international laws that set boundaries on how states should conduct themselves (p. 114). The losses suffered from World War I and World War II caused the international community to review international laws and this brought about the creation of the United Nations, a body that is charged with upholding international laws and preventing such conflicts from reoccurring. For instance, the UN peace keeping missions have brought about sustainable peace in conflict regions, like in the Ethiopia – Eritrean war and the conflict in Darfur, Sudan. If international laws were absent in such cases, it is most likely that there would be never ending conflicts in such parts of the world.

International laws also regulate the conduct of states that have competitive advantage over others with regard to commons. Likewise, these laws are useful in terms of protecting the position of disadvantaged parties in such situations as Hoffmann (1968) has pointed out (p. 115). It would be difficult for landlocked countries to have access to sea ports if the international laws were non-existent. It is therefore great that the United Nations Convention put in place the Law of the Sea which provides landlocked countries with access to sea ports and therefore allows them to trade competitively. In the end, international law allows disadvantaged states end up with a fairly level playing field similar to that of their more advantaged counterparts.

Additionally, Hoffmann (1968) emphasizes that international laws allow for the gathering of support from the international community on matters of interest (p. 115). International laws recognize that a states sovereignty does not necessarily translate to the protection of laws and upholding of values. Human rights and environmental conditions can easily be victimized when a states activities go on unquestioned or unchallenged. The reason for the invasion of Iraq by the United States, although highly criticized, was argued to be a mission to disarm the Saddam Husseins regime off weapons of mass destruction and end decades of human rights violations. Therefore, international laws provide the much needed checks and balances required to protect the international community at large and at other times citizens of sovereign states.

Finally, while many criticisms and failures of international laws have shrouded its legitimacy. the far-reaching advantages that have been realized as a result of codifying these laws cannot be ignored.


Hoffman, S. (1965). International Law and Political Crisis. Schneinman.L, Wilkison.D (Ed.). Little, Brown and Company.

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