The United Nations plays a key role in the maintenance and progression of international law. UN Member States recognize that international peace and security, human rights, and sustainable development must be guided by a world based on the rule of law and respect for international law. The preamble of the UN Charter affirms these interlinked principles and expresses countries’ determination to “establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.”

The rules-based framework of treaties and international norms and standards delivers significant practical value by helping resolve disputes peacefully, facilitating trade, holding leaders accountable, and upholding the universal vales of equality, justice, and human rights. The adoption of these international obligations within regional and national frameworks further advances the growth of laws, policies, and practices in accordance with applicable international law.

To promote transparency of international law, the UN Charter requires treaties and international agreements agreed to by any UN Member State to be registered with the United Nations. The UN Treaty Series contains over 30,000 bilateral and multilateral agreements. The UN Secretary-General serves as the depositary for more than 550 multilateral treaties, ensuring their proper execution. These multilateral treaties cover a broad range of topics, including disarmament, nonproliferation, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international refugee law, international environmental law, international maritime law, and international trade and investment law.

International, regional, and national courts and tribunals are important to upholding justice and respect for international law. The major international courts, such as the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, help countries realize their obligations under the UN Charter to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.”

UN Member States similarly have embedded the principles of the rule of law and international law throughout the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in Goal 16, which aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

UNA-NCA engages and educates its members and the public on the constantly shifting dynamics of the international sphere and the role of international law. UNA-NCA hosts panel discussions to analyze and discuss U.S. leadership and influence at the United Nations, with a specific focus on international law, as well as reflections on current and former U.S. foreign policies. UNA-NCA educates its members about global change makers in the field of international law. UNA-NCA presents educational materials to inform members about contemporary issues of international law and their relevancy, both abroad and domestically. It also provides its members with a space to voice their thoughts on issues of international law in workshops and organized discussions.

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