The previous chapter suggested that much international law activity takes place within states, before domestic courts or before domestic administrative agencies. International law may be made between states (and within international organizations), but is often given legal effect through domestic law, either by direct incorporation, or through transformation in domestic law.
In much the same way as international law and domestic law are interconnected, so too is international law inextricably tied to its normative and sociological environment. It can confidently be stated that there are close connections between international law, politics, and ethics, and that international law and global governance stand in some relationship to each other. International law may have some autonomy vis-à-vis politics and ethics, but its autonomy is generally considered to be relative; it would be difficult to fully comprehend international law in isolation from both politics and ethics. This chapter aims to flesh out some of the interrelations at stake here, and in doing so takes up some themes already touched on in Chapter 1 above.
International law is best seen as a part of global governance, even if there is more to global governance than international law alone. Clearly, when the Security Council imposes sanctions, it engages in global governance; clearly, when the WTO accords a waiver so as to exclude trade in ‘blood diamonds’ from its rules, it engages in global governance, and clearly, when the ICC holds Thomas Lubanga guilty of recruiting child soldiers, it engages in global governance.
Yet, as this book has hoped to demonstrate in several places, global governance is also often exercised by authorities and through instruments that have a hard time fitting into the traditional categories of international law; the ‘soft law’ of financial regulation is a prominent example, as are the compliance mechanisms found in environmental agreements.
What is more, global governance is often exercised by actors other than states. It goes without saying that in the field of environmental protection, an entity such as Greenpeace plays an important role, despite being neither a state nor an intergovernmental organization, and without having any law-making powers. In the financial sector, credit rating agencies play an important role.