International Judicial Monitor
Published by the International judicial Academy of the International Law Institute, Washington, D.C.
with circulation assistance from the American Society of International Law

Winter 2018 Issue

100 Ways


International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives

100 WaysDriving freely and legally in another country. Being able to recognize traffic and road signs in more and more countries around the world.

By: James G. Apple, Editor-in-Chief, International Judicial Monitor

(In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Society of International Law in 2006, the Society published a pamphlet titled International Law: One Hundred Ways It Shapes Our Lives. The introduction gives an explanation for its conception: an affirmation that: “international law not only exists, but also penetrates much more deeply and broadly into everyday life than the people it affects may generally appreciate.” This column seeks to elucidate and elaborate on many of the 100 ways briefly presented in the ASIL pamphlet.)

International travel by personal private car has been made easier in the past 60 years not only by being able to transport private cars by container and other kinds of ships, but also by international agreements relating to the use of personal drivers’ licenses and the creation of a uniform system of road signs.

I personally was able to avail myself of both new freedoms in the late 1980s when I was studying in Europe for a year and was able to have my own personal automobile transported from the United States to a port in England. I was amazed at the ease with which I arranged for the transport of my car across the Atlantic both coming and going from the U.K. There was very little paper work involved, and no complications in picking up the vehicle at the two destinations, and modest fees. I used my car continuously in driving around England and Scotland with both my personal driver’s license from a U.S. state, and an international driver’s license.

Numerous international treaties relating to carriage of goods by sea (including containers) and by road enable the use of ships to transport private cars to another country and also enable the use of roads crossing borders for ease of movement of private cars. Examples of such treaties are the Customs Convention on Containers (1956,1962) and the Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Road Vehicles (1964).

The use of a valid driver’s license and being able safely to understand the roads of another country by using standardized road signs are made possible by two United Nations conventions, the 1949 UN Convention on International Road Traffic (known as the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic) and the 1968 UN Convention on Road Traffic (known as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic).

The first convention allows residents of one country holding a valid driver’s license to apply for and receive an international driver’s license.

The second convention, which was signed in November, 1968 and came into force in May, 1977, allows drivers from other countries to understand the road signs of the country where the visitor is driving. The Convention has been signed by 74 countries.

It should be noted that these conventions for motorists driving their personal cars have standard requirements that must be met, such as display of registration, license plates and carrying of the vehicle’s registration certificate. It should also be noted that  the United States and China are non-signatories to these conventions.

ASIl & International Judicial AcademyInternational Judicial Monitor
© 2018 – The International Judicial Academy
with assistance from the American Society of International Law.

Editor: James G. Apple.
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