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The International Community: A Large Municipality

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All laws, though, are not necessarily connected to morality but do serve to coerce the members of a society into acceptable behaviours and practices. But laws can only be valid when private citizens meet their obligations, or obey the rules, according to the law, and public officials enact the conduct set out within those laws to manage and enact the legal system. 4 Often if a legal system is able to meet such criteria, and there are no political reasons for defying the legal system, the population at large will with few exceptions, obey the law. 2 Hart The Concept of Law p. 258 3 See: Hart, The Concept of Law (general reading) 4 Ibid at pp.

110 and 116 The two levels of law referred to above, represent Hart’s contention in “The Concept of Law” that both primary and secondary laws exist within a legal system. Primary laws govern conduct, usually under some threat of punishment or sanction, of all the members of the society or community. Secondary laws govern the way the legal system is managed: how laws are created; how they can be changed; how and why they are cancelled.

It is vital that laws of both types are clearly understood by individuals. This is possible only when clear statements of rules, obligations and privileges are made, and the formulation, imposition and enactment of laws are widely recognised as valid. Perhaps most essentially, who has power within this legal process must be understood and accepted by a population. 5 Always, a very definite realisation has to exist that the validity of laws can be challenged. Often the primary laws can be challenged through processes described in the secondary laws.

In fact, morality can be (not exclusively, though) the grounds on which to challenge the validity of a law. 6 Simultaneously the overarching consideration must be that recognition, acceptance of the validity and effective enactment of a legal system will qualify it as a fully developed system. It is on these grounds that international law can be considered to be incompletely developed as a legal system. Although international laws are continually challenged and changed, through institutions such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) it is often the case that laws generated to govern international conduct – wither within the State, or inter-State – are not recognised by all States, neither are they accepted as binding, nor effectively imposed on States by the international community or international organisations. Woodrow Wilson, United States President after World War II, proposed that there should 5 See Hart.

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