Courtesy Reuters

Force Under a Modern Law of Nations

THERE is more agreement today than at any earlier period upon the need for some change in the traditional international system of a community of sovereign states. Unlimited sovereignty is no longer automatically accepted everywhere as the most prized possession or even as a desirable attribute of states. The revulsion against war and an international system in which war is not only possible but tolerated has been strengthened by our most recent frightful experience. The potentialities of atomic warfare further increase the demand for greater ingenuity, greater effectiveness, in the science of politics. Some naturally seek a complete and immediate change through the creation of a world government. Others would prefer to build more slowly through the medium of what is generally called international organization or administration, now typified by the United Nations. One point of agreement may be found in all plans and proposals, whether they come from statesmen or laymen, experts or novices. That common point is the necessity for an adequate international law. Under Article 13 of the Charter, the General Assembly is directed to encourage "the progressive development of international law and its codification" -- a task which it will presumably undertake at its coming meeting.

No system of law springs into existence full-panoplied. All legal systems, from the most primitive to the most advanced, have their backgrounds and roots in the society which they govern. It is therefore not enough to say that we must have a rule governing the use of atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction. It is not enough merely to have a law making war illegal. Such rules, even if backed by an adequate form of international organization, would fail to create the well-ordered society which is a prerequisite to the successful functioning of any legal system. If there be no deeply-rooted body of law governing the solution of the conflicts which are inherent in any human relations, frictions and tensions will become so strong that rules about weapons and wars

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