Right V. Might: International Law And The Use Of Force

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Right V. Might: International Law And The Use Of Force

By Louis Henkin and others
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1989
128 pp. $12.95

Has international law lost its relevance to the use of the military instrument? This volume, product of a Council on Foreign Relations study group, provides a badly needed set of answers, dissecting such cases as Grenada, Libya, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. Stanley Hoffmann addresses rules of behavior and the ethical foundations of international law, while Jeane Kirkpatrick and Allan Gerson argue for the legitimacy of military intervention to further self-defense and human rights. Louis Henkin provides a brilliant overview of the historical evolution of international law and of how it has been misapplied in recent years, and William D. Rogers and David J. Scheffer add an important political and practical dimension. While it is clear that some of the traditional constructs of international law may be inadequate to deal with the new, indirect forms of conflict, the conclusion emerges that the customarily flexible and evolutionary nature of international law should permit dealing satisfactorily with emerging and novel conditions. This is a solid volume whose ambitious aims have been realized; it should be read by foreign policy practitioners as well as by lawyers and legal scholars.

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