Article 51 of the Indian Constitution is a directive principle which focuses on the promotion of international peace and security. It is the duty of the State to promote international peace and security, try it’s best to maintain just and honourable relations between all the nations, facilitate respect for international law and treaties in dealing with other organized people and encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
Article 51 is to be read with Article 37 of the Indian Constitution. Article 37 mentions that the provisions contained in part IV of the Constitution shall not be enforceable in any court, but still those are crucial in the governance of the country. Therefore, these provisions have been provided because it’s the duty of the state to ensure that these principles are applied while making laws.
When the Constitution was being formed, the Constituent Assembly debated extensively on India’s role in fostering international peace, developing respect for international law and maintaining international relations. The members tried to introduce the Gandhian ideal of non-violence in India’s foreign policy. It was considered important for India to commit itself unreservedly to peace and against all forms of warfare, going by its history and tradition of non-aggression. This idea was put forth that India should be able to lead by example and make an unwavering commitment to peace.
What is International Law?
International law is the set of rules, agreements, and treaties that are binding between the sovereign countries which make them or bind themselves by it. Countries come together to make binding rules that they believe will benefit their citizens. Well drafted international laws promote peace, justice, common interests, and trade.
International law applies to all governments. But it’s up to each government to decide to what extent it will implement and follow the international law. A country’s laws apply to citizens and other people that are present in the country. At the same time, it’s up to the country’s governing authority to apply international law and keep their agreements with the other countries that are involved.
The need for Article 51
In an interdependent world, international law is evidently the simplest, most effective, and least expensive solution to all the problems. Put simply, and global problems require global solutions. There are many problems a developing country like India also cannot solve alone, no matter how powerful it is or how committed our leaders. One common example is terrorism. No state can effectively fight terrorism in isolation. Terrorist organizations are frequently seen evading national control by sending their money, people, and weapons across different state borders. Such threats can be only controlled if all countries work together. United Nations is one organization that is making budding efforts to do just that with the help of all member countries. Whatever reasons we have for developing domestic law also hold for developing international law.
There are various other issues like about 80 countries have developed and stockpiled deadly chemical and biological weapons. No country has sufficient technical knowledge or enough money to destroy these weapons of mass destruction. According to experts, twenty times more money and technology will be required to destroy a bomb than was used in its manufacture; that is how severe the condition is. Therefore, India needs to play its role efficiently in the world as a responsible country and promote international peace and security to every extent possible.
The issue with Implementation of International Law
Today there is no legally constituted body or a World Parliament for enacting international laws which all the nations and people around the world should follow. Therefore, a law that has no legal authority will not be legally enforceable, and if it does not even carry a punishment for its violation cannot be called law at all. In that sense, it can be said that there is no international law in the world today. Thus, only a legally formed ‘World Parliament' with the power sufficient enough to enact international laws that apply to all countries of the world along with all individuals, can provide the much-needed peace and security to the people of the world.
One of the complex issues in international law is the issue of sovereignty as well. It’s the idea that the state is supreme and is not subject to the rules of any other country or body. It’s the idea that one country can’t tell another country what to do. International law is almost meaningless for the international community if there is no legislature, judiciary, or executive branch. Nature of International law is such that when countries do find it in their interest, they follow it; otherwise, they consider it not binding on them.
Settlement of international disputes through peaceful means is very important to the objective of securing peace. The mere laying down of promotion of peace as an objective in the Constitution is insufficient. An efficient method is the need of the hour, which must be devised and promoted properly. With an increase in issues of international importance at an alarming rate, the provisions enshrined in Article 51 are a beacon and provide a ray of hope for saving the world from existing as well as upcoming issues. India has harmonized many of its domestic laws and norms with international principles in order to fulfil its international commitments.