War Law: Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict

War Law: Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict

by Michael Byers
     
 

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International law governing the use of military force has been the subject of intense public debate. Under what conditions is it appropriate, or necessary, for a country to use force when diplomacy has failed? Michael Byers, a widely known world expert on international law, weighs these issues in War Law.
Byers examines the history of armed conflict andSee more details below

Overview


International law governing the use of military force has been the subject of intense public debate. Under what conditions is it appropriate, or necessary, for a country to use force when diplomacy has failed? Michael Byers, a widely known world expert on international law, weighs these issues in War Law.
Byers examines the history of armed conflict and international law through a series of case studies of past conflicts, ranging from the 1837 Caroline Incident to the abuse of detainees by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Byers explores the legal controversies that surrounded the 1999 and 2001 interventions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and the 2003 war in Iraq; the development of international humanitarian law from the 1859 Battle of Solferino to the present; and the role of war crimes tribunals and the International Criminal Court. He also considers the unique influence of the United States in the evolution of this extremely controversial area of international law.
War Law is neither a textbook nor a treatise, but a fascinating account of a highly controversial topic that is necessary reading for fans of military history and general readers alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When President Bush insists our military forces have acted in accordance with international law, many other nations disagree. This happens so often that observers may wonder: exactly what laws are they arguing about? To readers willing to put in the work, this dense book provides the answers. According to Byers (The Role of Law in International Politics), laws governing war have existed since the 19th century, but nations freely disregarded them until the adoption of the U.N. Charter in 1945. The charter itself, however, is still subject to interpretation. When Israeli planes bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility in 1981, for example, the U.S. insisted that pre-emptive self-defense was not sanctioned. By 2003, America had changed its mind. Byers devotes three chapters to the complicated issue of self-defense, and another three to the equally contentious issue of humanitarian intervention: i.e., whether it's okay to invade a nation to stop it from committing unspeakable acts, such as genocide, or to bring democracy to its people. A final chapter attacks recent U.S. foreign policy, which, Byers argues, places American interests above international law and returns the world to the pre-1945 era when powerful nations routinely threw their weight around the globe, often with terrible consequences. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Daniel Levinson
Certainly questions about what kinds of military actions or use of force are lawful and moral and in what circumstances have been brought to the front of both domestic and international politics since 9/11.This short book (about 150 pages of text) serves as a primer for students and teachers alike. An introduction defines some key terms (treaties, customary laws, etc.) and sections and chapters are clearly identified by subject: types of United Nations action, self-defense justifications, humanitarian intervention, and international law during armed conflicts. The three chapters within each of these sections (9-15 pages each) are as clearly labeled too. Canadian professor Byers is clearly knowledgeable, though his writing is rather dry and flat: there is more defining and quoting than explaining here. The book includes a decent index and helpful lists of further reading and Internet sites. Also included in an appendix is the 1945 UN charter. Certainly a relevant, timely and informative work.
Kirkus Reviews
If Britain suspected that a Boston bar harbored IRA terrorists, would it be justified in lobbing cruise missiles into the city? Canadian legal scholar Byers doesn't raise the question, but he achieves plenty of similar provocations in this lucid primer. International law is, of course, what keeps the nations of the world from mauling one another worse than they do already; as Harry Truman remarked at the conference that established the United Nations, "We all have to recognize-no matter how great our strength-that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please." Yet, as Byers demonstrates, laws have a way of stirring up special pleading in the hope of granting exceptions; laws are constantly redefined; and rogue nations are forever testing the limits of the law, sometimes branching off on their own to pursue unilateral courses of action in places like, say, Iraq. A strict adherence to the letter of the law can yield disaster, of course, as Byers notes in the instance of Rwanda; while the "paradigm shift" that redefined genocide and led to the creation of the International Criminal Court came too late to save 800,000 Tutsis, it doubtless spared the lives of innocents in Kosovo. Yet, Byers notes, it is important to follow procedure, as Australia did in East Timor and the U.S. did in the first (but not the second) Gulf War, in order to secure international legitimacy. He goes on to examine several instances in which real events-the hijacking of an Air France jet to Uganda in 1976, the Pakistani invasion of Bengal in 1971, Saddam Hussein's attempt to crush the Kurds in 1994-led to important reevaluations of the law, some with perhaps unintended consequences. For instance,Slobodan Milosevic now sits before an international tribunal-but could not Ariel Sharon (and, for that matter, Henry Kissinger) be tried for the same category of crime?A thoughtful introduction to a complex, often baffling subject.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555848460
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
796,027
File size:
17 MB
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