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Public international law is composed of rules and principles governing relations between sovereign states and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations Organization along with organizations dedicated to specific fields of interest (WHO, FAO, UNESCO etc.) or the Council of Europe.
The public international laws define and determine the rights and responsibilities of the members of the international community following the principle that all sovereign states are equal and can enjoy the same scope of privileges and immunities.
Although international agreements (treaties) voluntarily entered into by the signatory states are the primary source of public international law, it can be also based on, and arise from, the customs and general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.
Moreover, international law is said to contain universal and absolute principles to be followed independently of the consent of specific states. These include, in particular: the prohibition of the use of force, genocide, slavery or racial discrimination.
The principal objective of international law is to safeguard the peaceful coexistence of nations and ethnic groups and thereby also contribute to the general development. For this purpose, a variety of measures for the peaceful and conciliatory settlement of disputes between states have been established, such as international tribunals, and in particular the International Court of Justice in The Hague.