The Power and Purpose of International Law

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9780195368949: The Power and Purpose of International Law

The world is poised for another important transition. The United States is dealing with the impact of the Afghan and Iraq wars, the use of torture and secret detention, Guantanamo, climate change, nuclear proliferation, weakened international institutions, and other issues related directly or indirectly to international law. The world needs an accurate account of the important role of international law and The Power and Purpose of International Law seeks to provide it.

Mary Ellen O'Connell explains the purpose of international law and the power it has to achieve that purpose. 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. These goals can best be realized through international law, which uniquely has the capacity to bind even a superpower of the world. By exploring the roots and history of international law, and by looking at specific events in the history of international law, this book demonstrates the why and the how of international law and its enforcement. It directly confronts the notion that international law is "powerless" and that working within the framework of international law is useless or counter-productive. As the world moves forward, it is critical that both leaders and their citizens understand the true power and purpose of international law and this book creates a valuable resource for them to aid their understanding. It uses a clear, compelling style to convey topical, informative and cutting-edge information to the reader.

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About the Author:


Mary Ellen O'Connell holds the Robert and Marion Short Chair in Law at the University of Notre Dame Law School. She has studied, taught, and written about international law for over 25 years. Professor O'Connell received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, an LL.B. with first-class honors from Cambridge University, an MSc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and her B.A. in History from Northwestern University. Her previous publications include International Law and the Global War on Terrorism: Lectures for the University of Paris II (2007), International Dispute Resolution, Cases and Materials (2006), and Redefining Sovereignty: The Use of Force After the Cold War (edited with M. Bothe and N. Ronzitti, 2005).

Professor O'Connell has taught at such diverse institutions as the Notre Dame Law School, the US Department of Defense's George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Germany, Ohio State University College of Law, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Italy, the Oxford Institute on International and Comparative Law, Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, Germany, and the University of Paris II (Paris, France). Her service to international law includes membership in numerous organizations, including the International Law Association as Chair of the Study Committee on Use of Force, the Executive Committee of the International Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools, the American Society of International Law (former member of the Executive Committee), the International Institute for Humanitarian Law (San Remo, Italy), the Lieber Society, and the German Society of International Law.

Review:


"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)


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O'Connell, Mary Ellen
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