The Power and Purpose of International Law / Edition 1

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The world is going through another important transition. International institutions have unquestionably been weakened as the United States works to sort through complicated issues such as the Afghan and Iraq wars, the use of torture and secret detention, Guantanamo, climate change, and nuclear proliferation. In recent memory, top Bush Administration advisers have spoken and written about the powerlessness of international law and its irrelevance-or worse-for the United States. The worldwide public needs and deserves a more accurate account. In The Power and Purpose of International Law, Mary Ellen O'Connell provides such an account by explaining the purpose of international law and the powers of enforcement it has available to achieve its mission.

International law supports order in the world and the attainment of humanity's fundamental goals of peace, prosperity, respect for human rights, and protection of the natural environment. The author argues that these goals can best be realized through international law, which uniquely has the capacity to bind even a superpower. It is also through international law that competing powers and divergent cultures can reach consensus. By exploring the roots of international law, and by looking at specific events in its history, this book demonstrates the why and the how of international law and its enforcement. It directly confronts the claim that international law is "powerless" and that working within the framework of international law is useless or counter-productive. As the world moves forward and reexamines international norms and institutions, it is crucial that both leaders and their citizens understand the true power and purpose of international law, and why humanity has persistently accepted it as true law.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A lucid modern analysis of the perennial great question about international law: international it is, but is it law? That question recently has been pressed with acerbic pertinacity; Professor O'Connell answers with informed vigor."
—Stephen M. Schwebel, President of the International Court of Justice (1997-2000)

"Professor Mary Ellen O'Connell adds her fresh views and clear-eyed vision to the battle to have America take international law seriously. Concomitantly, her message points to the way a new administration in Washington could hope to have the world take America's leadership seriously."
—Thomas Franck, Murry and Ida Becker Professor of Law Emeritus, New York University School of Law and co-author of The Law and Practice of the United Nations (OUP 2007)

"A brave, and sadly necessary, affirmation that the Rule of Law is an essential precondition for civilised life, even in nations whose leaders may think that they have no immediate need for it."
—Vaughn Lowe, Chichele Professor of Public International Law, All Souls College, Oxford University and author of International Law (OUP 2007)

"The Power and Purpose of International Law is a critical response to the dismissive attitude adopted by the Bush administration, neo-conservatives, and some US writers and scholars-such as Goldsmith as Posner-towards international law"
—Carlo Focarelli, University of Peruggia and LUISS University of Rome, Italy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195368949
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Ellen O'Connell holds the Robert and Marion Short Chair in Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Enforcement Theory
1: Classical Enforcement Theory
2: Compliance Theory
3: New Classical Enforcement Theory
Part. II. Enforcement Practice
Armed Measures
4: Unilateral Armed Measures
5: Collective Armed Measures
6: Unilateral Countermeasures
7: Collective Countermeasures
Judicial Measures
8: International Court Enforcement
9: National Court Enforcement

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