Posts Tagged custom
On the soccer field, it is not always entirely clear what behaviors a good sportsman should take, no matter how earnestly one pursues such laudable behavior. In some instances, rules guide players to sportsman-like behaviors. For example, it is considered unsportsman-like for the offense to cherry pick or to grossly outnumber the defense; therefore soccer’s offside rule was created. But this rule codifies only a narrow aspect of the custom of good sportsmanship in the beautiful game, leaving other aspects of sportsmanship defined by player custom.
In much the same way the offside rule was eventually created to explicitly direct soccer players toward fair behavior on the soccer field, international treaties like the Geneva Conventions are often created to delineate proper behavior from improper/war-like/criminal behavior throughout the world. Despite customs of humane treatment of others during war and traditions of good sportsmanship on the soccer field, neither the soccer community nor the international community have been able to put in writing and agree to a complete set of behaviors which proscribe the proper humane or sportsman-like action to take in every situation. In many areas, unwritten international custom defines the legality of an action. Lack of consensus or consistency of behavior can make it difficult to properly define customary international law.
When it comes to emerging industries like extraterrestrial resource mining, customary international law can seem like attempting to herd cats in zero gravity. Pinning down what is “fair” and “customary” in areas where no man has gone before can seem daunting but it also presents the unique opportunity to shape international custom by establishing them.