What is Public International Law?
The term Public ‘international law’ was first used by Jeremy Bentham in 1780. Oppenheim defined it as, “the name for the body of customary and conventional rules which are considered legally binding by civilized states in their intercourse with each other.” This definition of Oppenheim was criticized on various points due to which it needed reform. This reform was made by Sir Robert Jennings and Sir Arthur Watts. They defined “International law is the body of rules which are legally binding on states in their intercourse with each other. These rules are primarily those which govern the relations of states, but states are not the only subjects of international law. International organizations and to some extent, also individuals may be subject to rights conferred and duties imposed by international law.”
The definition which is given by Robert and Arthur is wider than the earlier definition as it postulates that international organizations and individuals are also the subjects of international law. But this definition is silent about the ‘General principle of law’ recognized by a civilized nation.
Modern Definition of International Law