The structure of international law and the need for higher levels of democratic conscience as necessary for compliance

Lalude Olalekan Moyosore
LL.M candidate at the Faculty of Law,
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria


The perception of law as a body of rules stemming from a vertical legal structure as would be seen in the municipal law system would be misleading if same were to be applied in an attempt to understand the international legal order since the core principles of international law, sovereignty, equality and non-interference supports a horizontal structure, in fact the mechanism of compliance might be lost in such an attempt. This paper examines the structure of international law from the realist perspective, arguing that international law cannot be perceived from the positivist angle, since there is no uniformed body of sanctions, and that unlike the domestic law structure in its hierarchical fashion of vertically placed compliance mechanisms, international law assumes a horizontal fashion as stemming from the inherent principles unique to international law. The paper suggests that just as democratic conscience is the mental component of democracy, necessary to its peculiarity as a political system, it is necessary for nation-states, especially the hegemonic states that constitute the United Nations Security Council to imbibe as it aids responsibility towards legal obligations. The paper further analyzes compliance in the light of the consideration of two international relations models of compliance, reputational model and the direct sanctions model, stating that compliance could be a function of reciprocity. The paper concludes on the success of international law in establishing order among states and regulating other non-state actors, suggesting that the ambition that international law has for a peaceful world could be achieved if states would inculcate higher levels of democratic conscience.

Keywords: Compliance, Democratic Conscience, International law, States

Preferred Citation

Lalude Olalekan Moyosore, The structure of international law and the need for higher levels of democratic conscience as necessary for compliance, The Lex-Warrier: Online Law Journal (2018) 8, pp. 370 – 380, ISSN (O): 2319-8338

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