Public International Law

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Each state is ruled by duties and rights that need to be adhered to. This is an international law that covers these rights and duties of inter-government agencies and departments.

Public Law Definition:
Those laws which regulate the structure and administration of the government, the conduct of the government in its relations with its citizens, the responsibilities of government employees and the relationships with foreign governments.

Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law describes public law as having several branches, as follows:

"… law is either public or private.
"Public law is that part of the law which deals with the state, either by itself or in its relations with individuals, and is called constitutional, when it regulates the relations between the various divisions of the sovereign power; and administrative, when it regulates the business which the state has to do…."

Other good examples of public law are tax law and criminal law.

Public law can be distinguished from private law, which regulates the private conduct between individuals, without direct involvement of the government.

Private law and public law can overlap. For example, an unsolicited punch in the nose would constitute a crime for which the government would prosecute under criminal law but for which there would also be a private legal action possible by the injured party under tort law, which is private law (although governments can be held responsible under tort law).

Codification and Prograddive Development of International Law

According to UN General Assembly Article 13, paragraph (1)(a), of the Charter of the United Nations, the UN General Assembly is mandated to encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification. The progressive development of international law encompasses the drafting of legal rules in fields that have not yet been regulated by international law or sufficiently addressed in State practice. In contrast, the codification of international law refers to the more precise formulation and systematization of rules of international law on subjects that have already been extensively covered by State practice, precedent and doctrine.

The Codification Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs assists the UN General Assembly in carrying out the above-mentioned mandate, in particular by providing substantive secretariat services to relevant bodies established by the Assembly, such as the International Law Commission, as well as the Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee, and to diplomatic conferences of plenipotentiaries convened to negotiate multilateral treaties. The Codification Division also assists in the precise formulation and systematization of rules of international law by preparing analytical research studies in various fields of international law. It promotes the universal respect for international law, especially by providing the legislative (legal bodies) of the UN General Assembly with assistance in enhancing compliance of States with their obligations under the UN Charter or other legal instruments, or under general international law. The Codification Division also encourages and facilitates the teaching, study, dissemination and wider appreciation of international law, by planning and implementing the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law.

This website provides access to information on the work of the various bodies established to carry-out the UN General Assembly’s mandate to encourage the progressive development and codification of international law such as the Sixth (Legal) Committee and the International Law Commission. It also provides access to information on the different activities of the Programme of Assistance, including the training courses in international law offered by the United Nations, the Audiovisual Library]] of International Law, and the publications prepared by the Codification Division.

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