International Law: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199239337

Vaughan Lowe
144 Pages
114 x 174 mm
Pub date
Nov 2015
Very Short Introductions
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  • Considers what international law is and what it can and can't do, in order to dispel some of the myths surrounding its capabilities
  • Explores the role of law in international society and considers what jurisdiction international law should have
  • Concentrates on specific and relevant international concerns, such as the environment, terrorism, international violence, cultural differences, and poverty
  • Examines the conflict between the principles and the goals of international law - and how they can be resolved

Interest in international law has increased greatly over the past decade, largely because of its central place in discussions such as the Iraq War and Guantanamo, the World Trade Organisation, the anti-capitalist movement, the Kyoto Convention on climate change, and the apparent failure of the international system to deal with the situations in Palestine and Darfur, and the plights of refugees and illegal immigrants around the world. 

This Very Short Introduction explains what international law is, what its role in international society is, and how it operates. Vaughan Lowe examines what international law can and cannot do and what it is and what it isn't doing to make the world a better place. Focussing on the problems the world faces, Lowe uses terrorism, environmental change, poverty, and international violence to demonstrate the theories and practice of international law, and how the principles can be used for international co-operation.


1: Nations Under Law
2: Where does international law come from?
3: Freedom from external interference
4: Sovereignty inside the State
5: What international law does well
6: What international law does badly (or not at all)
Further Reading

About the author: 

Vaughan Lowe, Emeritus Chichele Professor of Public International Law and Fellow of All Souls College University of Oxford
Vaughan Lowe QC is Emeritus Chichele Professor of Public International Law and an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford. He practices as a barrister and arbitrator from Essex Court Chambers, London, and has advised governments and corporations around the world on matters of international law. He is the author of many books and articles on the subject, including The United Nations Security Council and WarOxford University Press 2010; with Adam Roberts, Jennifer Welsh, and Dominik Zaum) and International Law (Oxford University Press, 2007).

"worth reading" - Maxamilian Bertamini, Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict

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