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International Law

nations, question, subject, country, principles and internal

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INTERNATIONAL LAW. This term was originally applied by Bentham to what was previously called the " law of nations," and it has been generally received as a more apt designation than that which it superseded. When the term "law of nations" was in use, that of "law of peace and war" was sometimes employed as a synonyme, and as indicative of the boundaries of the subject. It was thus in its proper sense restricted to the disputes which governments might have with each other, and did not in general apply to questions between subjects of different states, arising out of the position of the states with regard to each other, or out of the divergences in the internal laws of the separate states. But under the more expressive designation, Interna tional Law, the whole of these subjects, intimately connected with each other as they will be found to be, can be compre hended and examined, and thus several arbitrary distinctions and exclusions are saved. To show how these subjects are interwoven, the following instances may be taken :—A port is put in a state of blockade; a vessel of war of a neutral power breaks the blockade : this is dis tinctly a question between nations, to be provided for by the law of peace and war, in as far as there are any cousuetudinary rules on the subject, and the parties will submit to them. But suppose a mer chant vessel belonging to a subject of a neutral power attempts an infringement of the blockade, and is seized—here there is no question between nations in the first place. The matter is adjudicated on in the country which has made the seizure, as absolutely and unconditionally as if it were a question of internal smuggling ; and it will depend on the extent to which just rules guide the judicature of that country, and not on any question settled between contending powers, whether any respect will be paid to what the pity can plead in his own favour, on the ground of the comity of nations, or otherwise. But there is a third class of cases most intimately linked with these latter, but which are completely independent of any treaties, declarations of war, or other acts by nations towards each other. They

arise entirely out of the internal laws of the respective nations of the world, in as far as they differ from each other. The " conflict of laws" is a term very ge nerally applied to this branch of inter national law, and the circumstances in which it comes into operation are when the judicial settlement of the question takes place in one country, but some of the circumstances of which cognizance had to be taken have occurred in some other country where the law applicable to the matter is different. One of the most common illustrations of this subject 15,—a judicial inquiry in England whether a marriage has taken place in Scotland according to the law of that country ; or an inquiry in Scotland whether a mar riage has taken place according to the law of England ; in either of which cases there will generally be the farther and nicer question, Which country's law ought to prevail as the criterion ? Thus the three leading departments of international law are 1. The principles that should regulate the conduct of states to each other.

2. The principles that should regulate the rights and obligations of private par.

ties, arising out of the conduct of states to each other.

3. The principles that should regulate the rights and obligations of private par ties, when they are affected by the sepa rate internal codes of distinct nations. The First of these has been the princi pal subject of the well-known works of Grotius, Puffendorf, Vattel, and other publicists, who have derived from gene ral principles of morality and justice a series of minute abstract rules for the con duct of nations towards each other, and subsidiarily for the conduct of their sub jects in relation to international ques tions. It has been usual to call this department the " Law of Nature," as well as the Law of Nations, on the supposition that, though it has not the support of the authority of any legislature, it is founded on the universal principles of natural justice.

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