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Michael Byers

Introduction Most of humanity shares two searing memories: the collapse of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001; and a hooded man standing on a box with wires dangling from his outstretched hands. These images capture the painful truth that both sides in the so-called ‘war on terror’ have violated fundamental rules. But while non-state actors can violate international law, only states are able to change the law, making their breaches of greater potential consequence. In this chapter, I consider how the recent actions of the United States

in ‘War on terror’
Author: Nigel D. White

International organisations are a central component of modern international society. This book provides a concise account of the principles and norms of international law applicable to the intergovernmental organisation (IGO). It defines and explains inter-governmentalism and the role of law in its regulation. The book presents case studies that show how the law works within an institutional order dominated by politics. After a note on the key relationship between the IGO and its member states, it examines the basic relationship between the UN and states in terms of membership through admissions, withdrawal, expulsion, suspension, and representation. The debate about the extent of the doctrine of legal powers is addressed through case studies. Institutional lawmaking in the modern era is discussed with particular focus on at the impact of General Assembly Resolutions on outer space and the Health Regulations of the World Health Organization. Non-forcible measures adopted by the UN and similar IGOs in terms of their legality (constitutionality and conformity to international law), legitimacy and effectiveness, is covered next. The different military responses undertaken by IGOs, ranging from observation and peacekeeping, to peace enforcement and war-fighting, are discussed in terms of legality and practice. The book also considers the idea of a Responsibility to Protect and the development of secondary rules of international law to cover the wrongful acts and omissions of IGOs. It ends with a note on how the primary and secondary rules of international law are upheld in different forms and mechanisms of accountability, including courts.

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The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2006
Editor: Chris Miller

'Terror' is a diffuse notion that takes no account of local particularities and 'war on terror' is a contradiction in terms. This book is based on the lectures that were given on the subject in Oxford in 2006. Amnesty has described 'war on terror' as a war on human rights. It is also a contest of narratives: stories that the protagonists tell about themselves, about their enemies, and about what is happening now. The book considers how the recent actions of the United States have stressed and stretched two areas of international law: the right of self-defence, and the rules of international humanitarian law. State terrorism, with a bit of careful spin, can be reclassified as counter-terrorism, in other words as inherently good in the same way that terrorism is inherently bad. The book engages with the politico-conceptual difficulties of distinguishing between war and terrorism. The interface and tensions between the human rights tradition and the Islamic tradition, particularly Islamic law, is discussed. The intensification of Western repression against Islamic thinkers or activists has at times been coupled with policies that seemed designed to change the religious trajectory of society. The sexualization of torture is only one way in which the 'war on terror' has delineated who is (and who is not) human. Religion, human rights, and trauma narratives are three other mechanisms for rationalizing suffering. The book also discusses the subject of censuring reckless killing of innocent civilians by the issue of fatwas by Muslim teachers.

A new source of international law?
Nigel D. White

Although there are controversies about the UN Security Council making binding laws of general application considered in Case Study 8, this should not disguise the fact that the UN has been hugely influential in shaping international law since 1948 (with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). This has occurred primarily through the General Assembly and the specialised agencies. Despite a dramatic increase in the institutionalisation of lawmaking the orthodox view remains that the legal outputs of IGOs do not challenge traditional forms of

in The law of international organisations (third edition)
Nigel D. White

While the primary rules of international law are those norms applicable to IGOs in their decisions and operations, such as those rules governing the use of force or those protecting human rights, secondary rules of responsibility are concerned with the consequences of breach of those rules by an organisation, sometimes known as liability, although liability ‘has a broader meaning; it also refers to acts that are not unlawful (but cause damage)’. 1 IGOs possessing separate international legal personality are responsible for their internationally wrongful acts

in The law of international organisations (third edition)
Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

(This article was originally published on ‘Normblog’, 27 August 2013) The signs are now clear that Washington * and other Western powers, † including Britain, are considering military action against Syria on account of the regime’s apparent use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. ‡ Would such action be justified? In the debate about this at least three types of issue are centrally involved: (1) whether there is a basis in international law for military intervention; (2) whether it is likely to do any good; and (3) whether it might be merited in

in The Norman Geras Reader
The key to autonomy
Nigel D. White

This chapter considers the legal construction that helps to explain why the UN is legally separate and autonomous, independent of member states, when member states have created it and sit and vote on its organs. The reader is reminded that it is possible to create separate, abstract legal entities – clubs, societies, corporations, states are all abstract legal entities. In international law there needs to be an assessment of whether IGOs are legal subjects of the international legal order, thereby having international legal personality, separate from the main

in The law of international organisations (third edition)
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Nigel D. White

This chapter examines non-forcible measures adopted by the UN and other IGOs, their legality (both in terms of constitutionality and conformity to international law), legitimacy and effectiveness. Are sanctions used to punish breaches of law by member states or do they serve wider purposes? The main focus will be Article 41 of the UN Charter, a provision that expressly empowers the Security Council to adopt sanctions. It used this power largely against states in the Cold War but, given that the real culprit was not the population of the state but the regime

in The law of international organisations (third edition)
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Ben Cohen and Eve Garrard

the rape rooms, the torture chambers, the children’s jails, and the mass graves recently uncovered. This was the result which hundreds of thousands of people marched to secure. Well, speaking for myself, comrades, there I draw the line. Not one step. Let me now just focus on a couple of dimensions of this issue. Humanitarian intervention First, there is a long tradition in the literature of international law that, although national sovereignty is an important consideration in world affairs, it is not sacrosanct. If a government treats its own people with

in The Norman Geras Reader
Nigel D. White

The expectations placed upon the UN have led to a change from it being viewed as a benign, if ineffective, IGO, one which could not be expected to make a real difference, to being seen as a source of legitimate authority for action taken to deal with threats to the peace and to prevent serious breaches of international law. The fact that the UN and other similar IGOs are operational, and that their decisions affect the lives of millions, have led to greater demands for accountability of IGOs and access to justice when they have caused harm. These demands are

in The law of international organisations (third edition)