What are The Seven Subjects of International Law?


A subject of International Law is a person (entity) who possesses an international legal personality, i.e., capable of possessing international rights and obligations and having the capacity to take certain types of action on the international level. These persons and subjects of International Law are discussed in the following -

1. States

All States, by virtue of the principle of sovereign equality, enjoy the same degree of international legal personality. International Law is primarily concerned with the rights, duties and interests of States. Normally the rules of conduct that International Law prescribes are rules which States are to observe.

2. International Organizations

An international organization is an association of States, established by a treaty between two or more States. Its functions transcend national boundaries. It is for certain purposes a subject of International Law.

3. Non-State Entities

There are certain entities, although they are not regarded as independent States, they are granted a degree of personality, a definite and limited special type of personality, under International Law. Such entities have certain rights and duties under International Law. They can participate in international conferences and enter into treaty relations. However, the rights and duties of these entities in International Law are not the same as those of the States.

4. Special case entities

There are two special-case entities accorded special unique status under International Law; they are the Sovereign Order of Malta, and the Holly See, and the Vatican City.

5. Individuals

In the Twentieth Century, International Law became again concerned with individuals. In 1907, the Hague Conventions initiated the concern in view of prisoners of war and the wounded. During the Second World War, the trend of International Law had been towards attaching direct responsibility to individuals for crimes committed against peace and security. The Charter of London of 1943 issued by the Allied Powers established the individual responsible for committing war crimes, crimes against humanities, and crimes against peace.

6. Minorities

The concern of International Law, in the Twentieth Century, for individuals was accompanied by another concern for minorities.

7. Indigenous Peoples

In recent years, a special issue related to a category of the so-called “indigenous peoples” has been raised. Examples of indigenous peoples are the Aborigines in Australia, the American Indians, the Eskimos, and the Maori in New Zealand.

Share this story

WhatsApp Channel Join Now