Emblem of the International Court of Justice
The Hittite version of the Treaty of Kadesh, among the earliest extant examples of an international agreement.
The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, seat of the ICJ
Audience of the "Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo"

The ICJ is the only international court that adjudicates general disputes between countries, with its rulings and opinions serving as primary sources of international law.

- International Court of Justice

This consensual view of international law was reflected in the 1920 Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, and was later preserved in Article 38(1) of the 1946 Statute of the International Court of Justice.

- Sources of international law
Emblem of the International Court of Justice

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The Hittite version of the Treaty of Kadesh, among the earliest extant examples of an international agreement.

International law

Set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nations.

Set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between nations.

The Hittite version of the Treaty of Kadesh, among the earliest extant examples of an international agreement.
Hugo Grotius' De jure belli ac pacis, is considered one of the foundational texts of international law. (Pictured is the title page from the second edition of 1631).
A portrait of the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (alias Hugo de Groot)
Sir Alberico Gentili is regarded as the Father of international law.
The First Geneva Convention (1864) is one of the earliest formulations of international law

The sources of international law include international custom (general state practice accepted as law), treaties, and general principles of law recognized by most national legal systems.

A more robust international legal order followed, which was buttressed by institutions such as the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Security Council, and by multilateral agreements such as the Genocide Convention.

The Moroccan-American Treaty of Peace and Friendship, sealed by Sultan Mohammed III.

Treaty

Formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law.

Formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law.

The Moroccan-American Treaty of Peace and Friendship, sealed by Sultan Mohammed III.
The signing of the Geneva Conventions in 1949. A country’s signature, through plenipotentiaries with "full power" to conclude a treaty, is often sufficient to manifest an intention to be bound by the treaty.
The International Court of Justice is often called upon to aid in the interpretation or implementation of treaties.
A treaty delegation of the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute indigenous tribes to Washington, D.C. (1858).

Treaties serve as primary sources of international law and have codified or established most international legal principles since the early 20th century.

Also, under the United Nations Charter, which is itself a treaty, treaties must be registered with the UN to be invoked before it, or enforced in its judiciary organ, the International Court of Justice.

United Nations

Intergovernmental organization whose purpose is to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

Intergovernmental organization whose purpose is to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

Members of the United Nations
1943 sketch by Franklin Roosevelt of the UN original three branches: The Four Policemen, an executive branch, and an international assembly of forty UN member states
The UN in 1945: founding members in light blue, protectorates and territories of the founding members in dark blue
Dag Hammarskjöld was a particularly active secretary-general from 1953 until his death in 1961.
Kofi Annan, secretary-general from 1997 to 2006
Flags of member nations at the United Nations Headquarters, seen in 2007
Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet general secretary, addressing the UN General Assembly in December 1988
Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, demonstrates a vial with alleged Iraq chemical weapon probes to the UN Security Council on Iraq war hearings, 5 February 2003
Current secretary-general, António Guterres
The ICJ ruled that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 did not violate international law.
Under Sukarno, Indonesia became the first and only country to leave the United Nations.
A Nepalese soldier on a peacekeeping deployment providing security at a rice distribution site in Haiti during 2010
The UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus was established in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1949
Three former directors of the Global Smallpox Eradication Programme reading the news that smallpox has been globally eradicated in 1980
In Jordan, UNHCR remains responsible for the Syrian refugees and the Zaatari refugee camp.
The 2001 Nobel Peace Prize to the UN—diploma in the lobby of the UN Headquarters in New York City
Marking of the UN's 70th anniversary – Budapest, 2015

The UN is headquartered on international territory in New York City, and has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, and The Hague (home to the International Court of Justice).

The ICJ's rulings are binding upon parties and, along with its advisory opinions, serve as sources of international law.