The United Nations and the Principles of International Law: Essays in Memory of Michael Akehurst

The United Nations and the Principles of International Law: Essays in Memory of Michael Akehurst

The United Nations and the Principles of International Law: Essays in Memory of Michael Akehurst

The United Nations and the Principles of International Law: Essays in Memory of Michael Akehurst

Synopsis

With the fall of communism and the appearance of a new world order, it is hoped that the United Nations will become the principle organisation for the regulation of relations between states as well as for the settlement of conflict. The recent crises over Iraq and the continued bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia have ensured a higher profile for the United Nations but have at the same time placed great pressure on that organisation to resolve conflict and organise relations between states in a manner that is acceptable to the international community. The essays collected in this volume are published in conjunction with the International Law Group. Providing valuable statements of the fundamentals of international law from leading authorities, they re-examine the Declaration of Principles of International Law Governing Friendly Relations Between States. The Declaration is the nearest thing that states have to an international constitution and embodies the fundamental values of the international legal system. The great changes in the international system since 1989 hold out the prospect of the reinvigoration of the Charter, perhaps for a new system of international legal relations, and make the reconsideration of the Declaration particularly timely.

Excerpt

Michael Akehurst (1940-89)

Michael Akehurst was one of the most gifted international lawyers of his generation. His textbook, A Modern Introduction to International Law, which has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese, remains one of the most succinct and readable introductions to the subject, and was designed to appeal to an audience much wider than that of professional lawyers. the need to bridge the gap between legal theory and the less tidy world of practical politics informed all of Michael’s writings, and perhaps owes something to the days which he spent early in his career with unrwa in Beirut. None the less, he was a lawyer of consummate technical skill. His book on The Law Governing Employment in International Organisations (1967) remains a standard work of reference, and his many articles in the British Yearbook of International Law include some of the finest analyses of topics as diverse as jurisdiction, the nature of customary international law, and reprisals.

As a person, Michael could be difficult, especially for his colleagues. He did not suffer fools gladly, and had more of a gift for trenchancy than diplomacy in his language. But as a teacher he showed endless patience in the supervision of his students. a private, and in some ways a lonely man, his life came to a tragically premature end. But he leaves behind him a body of work which will be a permanent testimony to his outstanding abilities, and a degree of affection and admiration which, sadly, he would probably not have expected. This volume of essays is a tribute to his memory, offered as a mark of respect by some of those who benefited most directly from their acquaintance with this man of exceptional talent.

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