Book Review - International Law: Remaking the Rules

Michael Byers, War Law: International Law and Armed Conflict, Atlantic Books, 2005, £16.99;Philippe Sands, Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, Allen Lane, Penguin,2005, £12.99

The World Today
3 minute READ

David Bentley

The relative clarity of the law governing the use of force by states as it stood at the outbreak of the Second World War is no more. The legality of its use in Iraq two years ago is bitterly controversial. Two books by prominent international lawyers, one dealing specifically with war law, the other a wider survey, and both written for the non-specialist reader, are therefore welcome publications.

Like democracy, living under international law has its drawbacks, but is still generally preferable to the alternatives. Both authors are unhappy with what they see as the present trend for the United States to remake the global rules in its own interest and without the broad support of other states – or to disregard them.

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