Relation between International Law and Municipal Law

Edwin Borchard, Yale Law School


Recent events on this continent make it seem appropriate once more to discuss the much debated question of the relation between international law and municipal law. For one school, the dualists, municipal aw prevails in the case of conflict; for the other school, the monists, international law prevails.

There are two special features about the debate which warrant mention: first, that while the disputants do not widely differ in the ultimate solution of practical problems, they do differ considerably in their major premises and in the resulting theories; and second, that the attempt of various countries on occasion to escape the restraints of international law persuades them to find a justifying theory in its supposed limited scope and in a compensating emphasis upon State sovereignty.