The role of International Law in Conflict Resolution

Author: Jyoti Sharma, a student at Amity University, Gurugram, Haryana


In settling disputes among nations, international law is invaluable as it gives nations an idea of what is right and wrong. Most importantly, international law can be used as a tool for peace building if properly applied. This topic will explore how international law aids in conflict resolution without necessarily shedding blood some of which include dialogue among others. It also points out the significance of observing human rights as well as avoiding the application of coercion. Real life examples such as The Iran Nuclear Deal and the South China Sea Dispute, were cited in the article to demonstrate how international law is utilized in practical terms. In other words, this article stresses the essence of international law when it comes to keeping peace among states. Furthermore, the difficulties and constraints faced by international law in the effective resolution of conflicts, which include enforcement mechanisms and compliance issues, are discussed by the book. This article highlights the need to maintain and enhance the international legal framework to attain sustainable peace and stability globally through explaining the importance of international law in addressing modern conflicts.

Keywords: International Law, Conflict Resolution, Peaceful Settlement, Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration, Human Right, South China Sea Dispute, Iron Nuclear Deal, Legal Framework


Conflicts between states have always been part of the world because it is marked by different cultures competing interests and geopolitical complexities. Conflicts may arise due to territorial disputes, ideological differences and/or resource scarcity, all of which can lead to war that will have serious implications. Consequently, the significance of international law in conflict resolution keeps on growing in this kind of environment. 

The resolutions of conflicts between different nations, mechanisms designed at promoting collaboration, and at promoting stability and maintaining human rights are some of the benefits of the structured framework that international law. There are many legal actions, treaties, and conventions that are put in place to ensure that states behave well in their capacity and when they are dealing with each other on the international level. International law is a cornerstone for promoting order and justice in the international community starting from the United Nations Charter to trade, environment and human rights among other specific issues targeted by multilateral agreements. 

This article explores the interconnectedness between international law and solving disputes. It explains how legal rules help to prevent conflicts among nations through a detailed approach from the analysis of specific situations. The main aim of the article is elucidating practical significance of legal approaches for their mastery as well as final resolution through using examples as well as analysing their application in reality situations. 

This introduction also paves the way for the examination of how international law is involved in resolving conflicts from different aspects including supporting diplomatic talks; arbitrating between conflicting parties when necessary; mediating in disputes where there cannot be an agreement among the countries; making decisions during adjudication processes that are fair enough for all involved parties or even their representatives. Moreover, it recognizes some difficulties that are always present in the process of international law enforcement like problems concerning the mechanism that is used for doing so, compliance with it as well as problems related to dealing with various jurisdictions.

The main aim of the article is to show how significant it is to maintain & develop the global legal framework as a factor for peace, stability, cooperation and what the essence of its connection with conflict resolution in international relations is all about.


It’s like two people getting mad at each other and none of them wants a fight to occur. Two or more countries could also have disagreements which are much serious compared to personal arguments. In situations like these, it is important to find peaceful means of solving issues. This is when the promotion of peaceful dispute settlements matters. 

Promoting peaceful dispute settlement is fundamental for stability maintenance, cooperation growth, and conflict prevention from national to international levels without escalation into violence. It entails using different mechanisms and strategies to resolve differences and remove frictions amicably among parties involved to keep peace and security. Here’s a detailed exploration of the methods and approaches involved in promoting peaceful dispute settlement: 

  • Diplomacy: Negotiation and communication between nations to resolve conflicts and disputes constitute diplomacy. Countries engage in dialogue, negotiation, and compromise to resolve disputes peacefully through diplomatic channels. Diplomats use their abilities in negotiating, persuading, and resolving conflicts to arrive at resolutions that are acceptable to all parties concerned and to prevent further escalation of these conflicts. These diplomatic initiatives may involve two parties (bilateral) or many participants from various nations or global groups (multilateral).
  • Mediation: In mediation, a neutral third party intervenes to help people who are in a dispute come to an agreement. The mediators work by guiding parties through discussions and search for joint venture as discussing areas of possible consensus among them. This is done by presenting a balanced position, fostering dialogue, and narrowing discrepancies amid the disputants. Mediation may happen on different grounds such as international institutions, regional councils or single mediators selected with approval from the conflicting sides. 
  • Arbitration: Arbitration is a more formal way of resolving the dispute when the parties choose to submit that dispute to a neutral arbitrator or panel of arbitrators than mediation, in which they reach a voluntary settlement with the help of the mediator’s suggestions. The mediation, unlike arbitration that results into an impendent decision that is acceptable to all parties involved. Disputes can be resolved through arbitration cases that follow the agreed upon rules as well as procedures. 
  • International Courts and Tribunals: When countries carry out their disputes, they make attempts to follow international laws. There are organs like the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), and regional courts like the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which act as platforms where countries come to seek legal solutions for their problems. 
  • Multilateral Diplomacy and Conflict Prevention: Multilateral diplomacy refers to the combined interventions of many states and international institutions to handle issues that have arisen due to conflicts as well as support for peace and security. On the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), regional outfits and diplomatic efforts in general assist nations prevent wars, arbitrate disagreements between nations and champion for peace restoration.
  • Peacekeeping and Conflict: The United Nations and regional coalitions use peacekeeping operations are essential to prevent conflict escalation and sustain peace post-conflict.


International law does not proscribe the use of force globally. However, it regulates the use of force by outlining the circumstances under which armed conflict is considered legal. The most important principle is that force cannot be used unless it is in self-defence or authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Moreover, international humanitarian law and human rights law always decide on how war should be waged by trying to reduce collateral damage or protect the most fundamental human rights in times of war; These instruments provide a thorough system within which non-combatants as well as other categories such as POWs may be treated humanely. Therefore, we must first understand what international law all is about.


Conflict resolution is a serious problem that is not effectively resolved by international law although it tries. Often enforcement is weak due to reliance on either the UN’s or states’ cooperation whose engagement can be compromised by politics. Also, the state-centralism of international law can have difficulty accounting for non-state actors more involved in the dynamics of conflicts. Developing continuously new legal frameworks is vital due to the mutating nature of conflicts, including the advent of cyberwarfare. 


The peaceful settlement of disputes is an important issue in international law, and it is done by negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and judicial settlement. 

The principle of non-use of force means that nations are not allowed to use military power as a way of ending disagreements but rather they should seek for peaceful ways to stop wars. International law respects the sovereignty of states, recognizing too that states must respect the rights and interests of others. 

Human beings’ privileges and regulations on starvation, are respected and protected by international law. In cases of dispute, it makes sure that people not directly involved in fighting are safe and that legal principles are maintained.


When nations try to solve problems by talking with each other or by making concessions they are said to be engaging in diplomatic negotiations. Mediators external to a dispute help conflicting factions communicate better and negotiate towards an agreed upon settlement. 

Arbitration occurs when a neutral party settles disputes among different countries. International Courts and Tribunals such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands provide legal remedies for wrongs committed by governments or even individuals who breach those same laws. 


  • The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Case Study in Conflict Resolution through International Law

For years, the controversy about Iran’s atomic program has been an obscure and strife-ridden subject that has put the safety of both the region and even the world at large in jeopardy. The year 2015 saw this come to an end when there were exhaustive diplomats’ conversations that resulted to a compromise between Iran & her allies [Russia; US & China & France; UK & Germany] plus European Union on one side and Iran alone on the other with its Partners (P5+1: France–United Kingdom–Russia-China Germany). This solved everything else was done away with (meaning now there is no further cause for concern). A breakthrough was reached during the period—July 14th in particular. 

The JCPOA was a groundbreaking contract displaying the capacity of international law to settle disputes using diplomacy. It relied on a sequence of numerous accords and obligations designed for guaranteeing that Iran’s nuclear program remains purely peaceful and simultaneously releasing her from sanctions.

Key Provisions of JCPOA:

  • Iran has agreed to restrict its uranium enrichment activities, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium, and permit the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regular inspections to verify adherence, as the P5+1 countries and the European Union agreed to lift economic sanctions to which they had subject Iran, owing to the grievances from its nuclear program.
  • The contract also laid down a method of resolving disputes over possible issues concerning implementation of the contract.

Role of International Law in JCPOA:

  • International law grounded the JCPOA, and it depended on different legal instruments for its effectiveness. The deal had received the support of the United Nations Security Council by way of Resolution 2231 that urged all UN member nations to back its execution.
  • A vital part for the assurance of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA was played by the IAEA as an international body which oversaw nuclear activities with necessary supervision. Iran’s conformity with the accord was ensured through regular reviews by the agency as well as inspection visits by its staff which provided an assurance that the country complied with its obligations under the agreement.

Challenges and Withdrawal from the JCPOA:

  • In this regard, the JCPOA experienced difficulties after its success at the beginning. This happened when America pulled out of the contract without consulting anyone else, including its allies, before putting back sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear capabilities, including production of missiles as well as regional involvements.
  • Iran’s decision to gradually decrease its adherence to the JCPOA following the exit of the US and restoration of sanctions exposed how vulnerable the deal was showing that it required a stronger global legal structure to shield bilateral agreements.

Lessons Learned and the Future of the JCPOA: 

  • The Iran Nuclear Deal is an essential example of how global laws help in resolving disputes. The agreement shows that the complex problems of security can be tackled through such topics as politics under which diplomacy reigns alongside other multilateral treaties on similar subjects; however, with difficulty amidst continuous changes in leadership styles coupled with individual moves.
  • The future is still unclear for JCPOA, though it has demonstrated that international law can be used as a foundation stone for resolving conflicts over nuclear programs. As the world deals with the spread of nuclear weapons and wars in various regions, key messages from the Iran Nuclear Deal are important for any moves towards a more peaceful and stable global order using international law.
  • The South China Sea Dispute: International Law and the Role of Arbitration:
  • Background:

Numerous countries laying claims to different islands and sea regions in the South China Sea, make it a vital sea route and an important resource. Since the Chinese navy has been sailing military ships close by towards these disputed islands as well as building artificial ones within them; we may say that armed forces have increased the standoff over this water body for many years.

  • International Law and the South China Sea Dispute:

The South China Sea dispute is settled through international law, especially United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) which guides on how to resolve maritime conflicts including delimitations of maritime boundaries and protecting rights of littoral states.

  • Challenges and Future Directions:

The South China Sea dispute persists as the ruling from such arbitration has not been acknowledged by China, urging up tension between China and other claimant countries. 

Encourage Diplomatic Negotiations: It is critical for resolving the dispute that there be diplomatic negotiations between the states that claim a right to any part of it. Therefore, it is important that these efforts be supported by The United States as well as others.

 Enhance International Cooperation: Resolving the South China Sea dispute requires international cooperation.

Enforcing International Law: The arbitral ruling has elucidated the legal structure of the South China Sea conflict. It is imperative for all parties to observe completeness as well as observance of international statutes within coastal states rights and duties.


International law functions as a guide for states whenever they have disputes to eliminate them without engaging into any violent activities. It acts as a platform that enhances communication, bargaining as well as equitable judgment. It helps to avert wars by observing these regulations; thus, finding amicable settlements for their disagreements hence maintaining peace among nations. On one hand, it helps in promotion of human rights through equality before law for all while on the other hand making sure that everyone gets justice without bias.

Countries indicate by respecting international law that they value justice and cooperation which in turn is a prerequisite for global peace and stability.


1. What role does international legal framework play when it comes to resolving conflicts? 

Answer: Peaceful settlement of disputes among nations can be facilitated by international legal framework.

2. What are some main international law guidelines in handling conflicts? 

Answer: Among main principles are the peaceful resolution of disputes, respect for territorial integrity, nonaggression and human rights.

The role of International Law in Conflict Resolution

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