International Legal System

The two primary sources of international law are custom and treaties, and both play a role in regulating international pollution. Customary international law emerges when countries engage in certain practices in the belief that those practices are required by international law. To become customary law, a practice must be generally followed, rather than just being the practice of a few countries. In contrast, treaties, which are often referred to as conventions or protocols, are legally binding agreements between countries or intergovernmental organizations. Treaties typically do not enter into force until a specified number of countries have expressed their consent to be bound by the treaty; even after the treaties enter into force, only the countries that expressed their consent are bound. A treaty is only effective to the extent it is implemented domestically by the parties to it. Each treaty raises its own questions of domestic implementation.

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