Since the end of World War II, there has been a continuing focus on establishing international criminal and civil legal procedures. The basic idea is to streamline the laws of different countries into a single platform. They help to provide guidance and clarity for various nations around the globe. This basic platform; has become a standard which is encouraging cooperation among numerous countries and it has led to improved coordination in the process. (McClean, 2002)

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To fully understand the similarities and differences between the two systems requires conducting a comparison of them. This will be accomplished by focusing on the challenges US based companies are facing and if either one creates an unfair advantage over the other. Together, these different elements will illustrate the characteristics of the two systems and the way they are applied.

The Similarities and Differences between the Two Systems
International law is focusing on creating universal standards for following different procedures. The basic idea is streamline they way various countries will enforce civil and criminal standards. In general, international criminal law is concentrating on the areas of: crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, slavery and crimes of aggression. These regulations are designed to force stakeholders to abide by specific standards during any kind of war or conflict. The various treaties that were signed to create these provisions include: the Geneva Convention, the Vienna Convention and the Rome Statues. These laws enforce numerous actions against specific individuals and countries which are supporting them. (McClean, 2002)

However, in many cases, their effective implementation and practice requires the different countries of the world cooperating with each other to meet / impose them. The problem is certain nations may not be signatories to these treaties or they will refuse to abide by them. As a result, this creates a working standard for everyone to follow and it offers a mechanism of enforcing them. Yet, the scope and amounts of cooperation; will vary from one nation to the next. This is because of the differences in interpretations and the way specific legal systems operate. (McClean, 2002)

In the case of civil law, there is one treaty which is used to enforce how countries interpret and apply specific procedures when it comes to trade and commerce (i.e. the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods). This is directing national courts to interpret the way various transactions are conducted through following these guidelines. However, these interpretations will vary, based upon legal traditions, case precedent and politics. (McClean, 2002)

The similarities between the two are: international criminal and civil law is based upon treaties signed by various nations. The enforcement and interpretation of them will depend upon previous case precedent, analysis and politics. They are different with international criminal law, covering specific actions that are committed during times of war. While civil proceedings, are focusing on commerce, trade and business transactions. (McClean, 2002)

What are some of the challenges that United States-based companies would face when conducting business internationally?
The biggest challenges American companies will face internationally, is how these provisions are interpreted and applied. These differences of opinions, could lead to conflicts for US based firms with operations inside specific regions. For instance, recently Anglo American filed a claim in the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. They allege that the Venezuelan government unilaterally nationalized a mine they had a 91% stake in 2012. This is problematic for US firms, as they face the possibility of foreign government seizing their assets. (“Anglo American Files Suit,” 2014)

Another example of this occurred, with Exxon Mobile losing control of their assets in Russia. The government claimed that they owed back taxes and seized their oil / gas interests as a part of an effort to increase Gazprom’s resources in 2004. This is a semi privatized entity established by the Russian government to control oil and gas properties. These areas are showing how nationalization is a major threat for US based firms. As they do not have the ability to fight such actions and could lose billions of dollars in the process. This differs from the US legal system, where the government must show cause for engaging in these actions. In both situations, they were using political motivations to justify what occurred. (Perovic, 2009)

Explain if you believe that one legal system creates an unfair advantage over the other, and justify your stance.
One legal system can create an advantage over the others by forcing everyone to follow their traditions, procedures and laws. This is problematic, as many governments will claim that they have the right to control activities within their own borders. According to McClean (2002), these disputes arise from one country feeling, as if they are being dictated by others around the world (who dominate the international system). In response, they will often ignore these guidelines, through their unique interpretations based upon their laws and politics. This is because they feel that the current system gives them an unfair advantage and it allows firms from a specific country to exploit their people / natural resources. (McClean, 2002)

Clearly, both international criminal and civil laws are based upon various treaties. They require each nation to voluntarily follow these provisions. This means that there will be times when they will conflict with national laws. Once this happens, there is the possibility that disputes could be settled through international institutions. The problem is that they are unenforceable and require signatory governments abiding by them.