Using International Law in National Courts: Bangladesh Perspective


The judicial use of international law at national Courts is being increasingly seen and recognised around the world. This practice should not be treated as interference with state sovereignty or national legal system but be perceived liberally. Despite following the dualistic legal tradition, Bangladesh is constitutionally committed to respect international law. Moreover, Bangladesh ratified all the core international human rights instruments most of which, however, remained unincorporated within national laws leaving the country’s position unclear regarding domestic application of international law. In 2001, the Appellate Division has pronounced that if no law is found on a disputed matter, the relevant principle of international law should be invoked in order to adjudicate the same. More recently, it has clearly declared the principle that the beneficial provisions and principles of international law can be resorted to and implemented in relevant cases unless they are contrary to the existing national laws. In fact, both divisions of the Supreme Court have already utilised in many cases the provisions and principles of international instruments mainly as an aid to the interpretation of the Constitution and the ordinary laws. The Courts have taken resort to the soft law instruments besides the binding instruments like treaties and conventions. These instruments have often been used with the manifest objective of protecting politico-civil rights of the marginalised sections of the people including women, children, prisoners and stateless persons. Sometimes, the Courts have utilised such instruments even for protecting the citizens’ basic socio-economic rights including the rights to housing, health, water and land.

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