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International law is not like the domestic law of any one country. The sovereign, or lawgiver, in any particular nation-state has the power to make and enforce laws within its territory. But globally, there is no single source of law or law enforcement. Thus international law is a collection of agreements between nation-states (treaties and conventions), customary international law (primarily based on decisions of national court systems), and customary practice between nation-states. There is an international court of justice, but it only hears cases between nation-states. There is no international court for the resolution of civil disputes, and no regional courts for that purpose, either.
The lack of unified law and prevalence of global commerce means that local and national court systems have had to devise ways of forcing judgments from one national court system or another to deal with claims against sovereigns and to factor in diplomatic considerations as national judicial systems encounter disputes that involve (directly or indirectly) the political and diplomatic prerogatives of sovereigns. Three doctrines that have been devised are sovereign immunity, act of state, and forum non conveniens. The recognition of forum-selection clauses in national contracting has also aided the use of arbitration clauses, making international commercial-dispute resolution more efficient. Arbitral awards against any individual or company in most nations engaged in global commerce are more easily enforceable than judgments from national court systems.
In terms of regulating trade, the traditional practice of imposing taxes (tariffs) on imports from other countries (and not taxing exports to other countries) has been substantially modified by the emergence of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rules as now enforced by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The United States has a practice of regulating exports, however, to take into account national security and other foreign policy considerations. For example, the Export Administration Act of 1985 has controlled certain exports that would endanger national security, drain scarce materials from the US economy, or harm foreign policy goals. The US secretary of commerce has a list of controlled commodities that meet any of these criteria.
International law derives from
Foreign nations are immune from suit in US courts for governmental acts because of
A foreign government’s expropriation of private assets belonging to a nonresident is
Arbitration of business disputes is