Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

The Power & Purpose of International Law: Insights from the Theory & Practice of Enforcement

Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

The Power & Purpose of International Law: Insights from the Theory & Practice of Enforcement

Article excerpt

The Power & Purpose of International Law: Insights from the Theory & Practice of Enforcement, by Mary Ellen O'Connell. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2008. Pp. 391. $45.00 (hardcover).

Mary Ellen O'Connell presents an authoritative account of the power and importance of international law in response to the recent release of The Torture Papers within the United States. Using historical examples and the evolution of international jurisprudence, O'Connell efficaciously argues that sanctions play a significant, but not vital, role in international law. Furthermore, O'Connell argues that the preeminence of enforcement practices indicates the importance of international law.

The Power & Purpose of International Law is divided into two parts. Part I discusses the evolution of enforcement theories in international law to illuminate that sanctions are important, but not vital, to make international law binding. Throughout three chapters, O'Connell traces the ebb and flow of two theories of enforcement: natural law and positive law. O'Connell elaborates on the critical works of Hugo Grotius, Hans Kelsen, Hersch Lauterpacht, Emmerich de Vattel, Carl Schmitt, Hans Morgenthau, H. …

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