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International Law

To qualify as a subject under the traditional definition of international law, a state had to be sovereign: It needed a territory, a Population, a government, and the ability to engage in diplomatic or foreign relations. States within the United States, provinces, and cantons were not considered subjects of international law, because they lacked the legal authority to engage inforeign relations. In addition, individuals did not fall within the definition of subjects that enjoyed rights and obligations under international law. A more contemporary definition expands the traditional notions of international law to confer rights and obligations on inter governmental international organizations and even on individuals. The United Nations, for example, is an international organization that has the capacity to engage in treaty relations governed by and binding under international law with states and other international organizations. Individual responsibility under international law is particularly significant in the context of prosecuting war criminals and the development of international Human Rights.

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