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How are national and international law different?

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Quick Answer

The primary difference between national and international law is that national law governs the actions of citizens within the borders of a country while international law is concerned with regulations and relationships between sovereign states. National law, also called domestic law, and international law share similar characteristics, but operate on different levels. Both national and international laws establish rules, regulations and norms for behavior and proper conduct, but while national law governs the actions only of people within national borders, international law concerns the actions of citizens over a larger area.

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Full Answer

The relationship between international and national law is quite complex, and there is often an overlap between them. The relationship between international and national law is much like the one between national laws and state law. State law sets rules, standards and regulations to guide the actions of citizens within a certain state, such as New Jersey or Connecticut. National law, on the other hand, concerns the actions of people across the United States. As with state and federal law, conflict and confusion may arise over the jurisdiction of national and international law. In times of controversy, international law is usually considered superior, and supersedes laws and standards set forth through domestic law.

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