Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

Synopsis

How International Law Workspresents a theory of international law, how it operates, and why it works. Though appeals to international law have grown ever more central to international disputes and international relations, there is no well-developed, comprehensive theory of how international law shapes policy outcomes.

Filling a conspicuous gap in the literature on international law, Andrew T. Guzman builds a coherent theory from the ground up and applies it to the foundations of the international legal system. Using tools from across the social sciences Guzman deploys a rational choice methodology to explain how a legal system can succeed in the absence of coercive enforcement. He demonstrates how even rational and selfish states are motivated by concerns about reciprocal non-compliance, retaliation, and reputation to comply with their international legal commitments.

Contradicting the conventional view of the subject among international legal scholars, Guzman argues that the primary sources of international commitment--formal treaties, customary international law, soft law, and even international norms--must be understood as various points on a spectrum of commitment rather than wholly distinct legal structures.

Taking a rigorous and theoretically sound look at international law,How International Law Worksprovides an in-depth, thoroughgoing guide to the complexities of international law, offers guidance to those managing relations among nations, and helps us to understand when we can look to international law to resolve problems, and when we must accept that we live in an anarchic world in which some issues can be resolved only through politics.

Excerpt

They know the foreign visitor is discreet and is not a reporter looking for sensational comments. He will not quote, and thus endanger, anyone. In Rangoon (Yangon) or even up-country, one must be cautious in talking with people about the current situation in Myanmar. Often in such conversations there seems to be a type of quiet, almost silent, understanding that there will not be requests for anything mundane or anything explicit. Yet one senses a longing for an optimistic future, some kind words indicating that the outside world understands and has not forgotten those innocents caught in the Myanmar miasma. Often, a tentative question is asked: can you give us some hope? Not a solution, not manna rained down, but the simple feeling that things may get better … sometime.

It is sad and also embarrassing to admit honestly that one cannot offer an early way out of the present set of crises. Humanitarian assistance should be provided for the neediest, of course, but this is not a solution. It is only an amelioration, no matter how badly it is needed for those endangered. Advocating that people rise up to the barricades—asking others to expose themselves and their families to harm when, as a foreigner, one is physically removed—is morally unacceptable and in any event foreign involvement would undermine the legitimacy of the cause in which they believe. On the other hand, exhorting isolation exacerbates the very issues one . . .

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