International Law and the Use of Force
A Documentary and Reference Guide
by Shirley V. Scott, Anthony John Billingsley, and Christopher Michaelsen
November 2009, 328pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-36259-0
$134, £104, 117€, A184
eBook Available: 978-0-313-36260-6
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Was the U.S. invasion of Iraq illegal? It is a question that has sparked widespread public scrutiny, as well as the interest of legal scholars. And while the vast majority of international lawyers consider the Iraq War a violation of the law, their opinions diverge as to whether the invasion has weakened or strengthened international law and the role of the U.N. Security Council.

This book is a discussion of key documents that explain the development, current status, and relevance of the international law governing the initiation of military hostilities.

International Law and the Use of Force: A Documentary and Reference Guide brings to life a crucial body of law, explaining its historical origins, the core rules and principles of the regime embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, and contentious aspects of that law in the contemporary world.

In light of the intensified interest in the question of justified or unjustified use of force, this timely resource introduces and analyzes over 40 documents relating to the legality of the initiation of military hostilities. The volume presents competing assessments of the legality of key uses of force and explains mainstream positions on important issues such as national right to self-defense, anticipatory and preemptive self-defense, terrorism, aggression, and the role of the UN Security Council. The book concludes by assessing whether the international law that seeks to limit the number of wars has in fact made the world a more peaceful place.


  • Includes 40 excerpts of original documents on the use of force, including the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons; statements by the presidents of Tanzania and Uganda outlining their policies towards their dispute over domestic repression in Uganda and Ugandan incursions into Tanzanian territory; and the presidential address to the nation on the commencement of military operations in Afghanistan
  • Presents 83 photographs, cartoons, and portraits illustrating the characters, events, and developments pertaining to the legality of the use of force
  • Offers a select bibliography of books, journal articles, and electronic sources of information on the international law concerning the use of force, its evolution and contemporary relevance
  • Includes 57 enlivening sidebars, including factoids, short snippets from related documents, `In History' and `Did You Know?'
Shirley V. Scott is associate professor in the School of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Her published works include International Law in World Politics: An Introduction and The Political Interpretation of Multilateral Treaties; she is also an editor of International Law and Politics: Key Documents. She has published many articles on the political functioning of international law in key journals including the European Journal of International Law, the European Journal of International Relations, International Relations, The Leiden Journal of International Law and the Chinese Journal of International Law.

Anthony Billingsley, PhD, is lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He specializes in international law, Middle East politics, international security, and U.S. politics. Before joining UNSW, he served in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Westpac Banking Corp., the Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE, and the Australian Office of National Assessments. He is a graduate in politics from UNSW, has masters degrees in politics from Strathclyde University and international law from Australian National University, and a PhD in Middle East politics and constitutional law from Macquarie University.

Christopher Michaelsenis a research fellow in the Law faculty of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and specializes in public international law, human rights, and international security. Before joining UNSW, he served at the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, at the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs, and at the Australian National University's Strategic and Defense Studies Centre. He graduated in law from the University of Hamburg and holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from the University of Queensland.


". . . an absolutely vital resource for anyone seeking the latest balanced and reasoned research and extrapolation on its topic."—Midwest Book Review, January 28, 2010

"This timely book is an excellent introduction to the legal prohibition of the use of force...Although targeted at students and general audiences, it would be a worthwhile addition to academic and law libraries with international law and international relations collections and will serve as a nice complement to research or coursework on the subject. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers."—Choice, June 1, 2010

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