1) Introduction - 

            There are three theories in respect of the Subjects of International Law.  There is no doubt  States are the main subjects of international law and most of the part of the International Law concerns with the conducts and relations of State with each other, but in view of the developing and changing character the of the international law, International organisations, some non-state entities and Individuals are also the subjects of international law.

2) Definition of International Law - 

          Eminent English Jurist Lawrence defines International law as ""the rules which determine the conduct of the General Body of civilized States in their mutual dealings".  disharmony in mutual relations among independent Sovereign State causes the rupture in their dealings.  International Law, therefore, regulates the conduct of states in their mutual dealings, hostile as well as Pacific. 
         According to Oppenheim, "Law of nations or international law is the name for the body of customary and treaty rules which are considered legally binding by civilized States in their intercourse with each other."

         According to G. J. Starke, International Law may be defined as that body of law which is composed for its greater part of the principles and rules of conduct which States feel themselves bound to observe, and, therefore, do commonly observe in their relations with each other and which includes also : 
                a) the rules of law relating to the functioning of international institutions or organizations, their relations with each other, and their relations with States and individuals; and 

                b) certain rules of law relating to individuals and non-state entities so far as the rights or duties of such individuals and non-state entities are the concern of the International community.   

See also... Important Definitions of International Law

              From the above definitions of international law, we may conclude that the international law is a body of rules and principles which regulate the conduct and relations of members of international community. The character of International Law is changing to cover International institutions, organizations, individuals and non-state entities as subjects of International Law.

3) Subjects of International Law -

     There are three theories in respect of the Subjects of International Law, which are - Realist theory fictional theory and functional theory.

     (a) Realist Theory - According to this theory States alone are the subjects of International Law.
     (b) Fictional Theory - According to fictional theory individuals alone subjects of international law.

     (c) Functional Theory -  according to functional theory individual, states and certain non-state entities are subjects of international law.

See also.... Basic Theories of International Law 

4) Position of Individuals as Subject of International Law -

                The position of subjects of international law has greatly changed with the passage of time. Some Jurists have expressed the view that only states are the subject of International Law. In their view, International Law regulates the conduct of the State and only States alone are the subject of international law. According to them and as per the positivism view individual is an object and not a subject of International law.

           But it is wrong to say that individuals are not the subjects of international law. Some Jurists are of the view that individuals who are the basis of the society and are the subject of International Law and not the object of the International Law.  The International Court of Justice has rejected the proposition that the states are the only subject of international law, and held that the states are responsible for an act of his agent.  As per the modern international law, it is generally recognized that besides States, Public International Organisation, Individual and certain other non-state entities are also the subjects of international law.

      Under the International Law duties of the states are ultimately the duties of an individual, and there is no difference between International Law and State law. As per Kelsen, both laws apply to the individual and they are for the individuals.

          In present times several treaties have conferred upon individuals rights and duties. for example International convention on human rights.

          In Danzing Railways official case, 1928 Permanent Court of Justice held that if any treaties the intention of the parties is to enforce certain rights upon some individuals, then International Law will recognize such rights and enforce them.

      A new trend has started in the international field under which some rights has conferred upon individuals  even against the States. for example European convention on human rights,1950, International convention on human rights 1966, optional protocol, by which an individual who is the victim of the violation of human rights, May send petition regarding violation of human rights by his own state to the United Nations Commission on Human rights. It is now agreed that International organizations are also the subject of international law. United Nation is an international person under international law and it is held by International Court of Justice that  United Nation is a subject of international law and capable of possessing rights and duties and it has the capacity to maintain its right by bringing International things.



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