The Limits Of International Law

Paperback | February 22, 2007

byJack L. Goldsmith, Eric A. Posner

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International law is much debated and discussed, but poorly understood. Does international law matter, or do states regularly violate it with impunity? If international law is of no importance, then why do states devote so much energy to negotiating treaties and providing legal defenses fortheir actions? In turn, if international law does matter, why does it reflect the interests of powerful states, why does it change so often, and why are violations of international law usually not punished? In this book, Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner argue that international law matters but that it is less powerful and less significant than public officials, legal experts, and the media believe. International law, they contend, is simply a product of states pursuing their interests on theinternational stage. It does not pull states towards compliance contrary to their interests, and the possibilities for what it can achieve are limited. It follows that many global problems are simply unsolvable. The book has important implications for debates about the role of international law in the foreign policy of the United States and other nations. The authors see international law as an instrument for advancing national policy, but one that is precarious and delicate, constantly changing inunpredictable ways based on non-legal changes in international politics. They believe that efforts to replace international politics with international law rest on unjustified optimism about international law's past accomplishments and present capacities.

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From the Publisher

International law is much debated and discussed, but poorly understood. Does international law matter, or do states regularly violate it with impunity? If international law is of no importance, then why do states devote so much energy to negotiating treaties and providing legal defenses fortheir actions? In turn, if international law d...

Jack L. Goldsmith is Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard University. He is co-author of Who Controls the Internet? and the casebooks Foreign Relations Law and Conflicts of Laws. Eric A. Posner is Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, University of Chicago. He is the co-author of Terror in the Balance and the editor of the ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 6.1 × 9.21 × 0.59 inPublished:February 22, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195314174

ISBN - 13:9780195314175

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart I: Customary International Law2. A Theory of Customary International Law3. Case StudiesPart II: Treaties4. A Theory of International Agreements5. Human Rights6. International TradePart III: Rhetoric, Morality, and International Law7. A Theory of International Rhetoric8. International Law and Moral Obligation9. Liberal Democracy and Cosmopolitan Duty10. Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner have written a compelling study which provides an elegant analytic framework for understanding when international law matters and when it does not. Goldsmith and Posner show that some kinds of international law are very consequential while others are not. Afterthis study it will be difficult for any serious observer to treat customary international law as if it were a constraint on rather than an manifestation of changing state power and preferences."--Stephen D. Krasner, Department of Political Science, Stanford University