Sovereignty is the fundamental concept around which international law is presently organized. This principle holds that "[e]xcept as limited by international law or treaty, each state is master of its own territory." Consistent with this conception of absolute sovereignty, international law has traditionally been concerned with the relations between co-equal sovereign states. Each sovereign state can only be legally bound by those commitments it willingly makes to other sovereign states, and by those few principles which are viewed as binding on all states. Those issues that arise from the relationship between the state and its citizens, and between those citizens inter se, are viewed as part of the domestic affairs of each sovereign state and thus outside the scope of international law.
Claudio Grossman and Daniel D. Bradlow, "Are We Being Propelled Towards, a People Centered Transnational Legal Order?", 9 AM. U. J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 1 (1993)