Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 35: International Law

By Quinton Lister, legal assistant 

In light of recent events in Russia and Ukraine, I have been thinking a lot about the nature of international law. In situations like these, I wonder what the efficacy of international law really is. I am a legal assistant to a divorce attorney so my experience in international law is non-existent, but as I see it, the fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine leads me to believe that international law is nothing more than a formality. The only way to enforce international law with those who willfully disobey it is, as the term denotes, by force. The only way to keep someone in check on the international stage appears to me to be, at bottom, the threat of violence. Granted, law enforcement goes hand in hand with having laws, but merely having a set of rules is not enough to keep people from abusing those rules. Essential to the rule of law is the ability to enforce it. What legitimacy does “international law” really have by simply existing as a principle without a way to ensure it is practiced? 

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