‘There is no real system of international law. It is merely a reflection of international politics’

 'There is no real system of international law. It is merely a reflection of international politics'. Discuss

There are International Laws and conventions yet it would be stretching the facts to refer to them as fully- fledged system. Jeremy Bentham originally used the term international law in 1780.[1] Prior to the 20th century what little international law there was usually the result of treaty arrangements between two or more nation states. In Europe the settlement of Vienna after the Napoleonic War kept the continent relatively peaceful until the First World War.[2] Although what little international law there was seemed to be morally binding on all nations that had agreed to them there was no organisation to enforce their compliance. If nations had disputes between each other over breaches of international law or other grievances the only means to settle them were through diplomacy or war. Such an organisation it was though may have prevented the First World War it formed the basis for the League of Nations.[3] The League of Nations proved ineffective in forming a system of international law and was unable to stop acts of aggression such as those by Italy, Germany and Japan. The League of Nations was weakened by the absence of the US and Soviet Union whilst Britain and France did not have the willpower or resources to deal with aggression. Britain for instance could have used the Royal Navy to stop the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.[4] The area in which international law was most well developed was in the conventions regarding the rule of wars that were contained in the Geneva and Hague conventions. However, countries that signed these conventions were not bound to keep them against countries that had not. The Germans ignored them completely on the Eastern Front against Soviet Union during the Second World War. The Iraqi’s and Iranian’s did not abide by the conventions during their war of 1980-89. The conventions do not cover civil wars such as the one in Spain during the 1930s or more recent conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia.[5]
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