The primary distinction between domestic and international law is that the latter often lacks an enforcement mechanism. There is no government to enforce the law, as there is in domestic situations. International law is often as much a source of conflict as it solves them. Most forms of international law is not enforceable unless powerful countries see it in their interest to do so, and cross-cultural differences make its interpretation and implementation difficult. The question is whether international laws really are laws if we do not translate them into domestic laws where there is greater potential for enforcement. By adapting international law into domestic statutes, governments, in theory, provide enforcement mechanisms. There are also instances in which domestic law not only does not contain international law but is in fact in contradiction to it.
Current global crises and other conditions associated with an emergent global ethos are speeding up considerations that demand deeper analysis of what we can cover under international law. The evolution of international will fulfill some requirements over time; however, how it will evolve and the product gotten at each stage remains unknown. One can only hope that it can accomplish its evolution with little armed conflict. The future of global human development and humanity’s wellbeing is dependant upon that not yet revealed.
Adapted from: Brahm, Eric. “International Law.” Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September 2003