International law is so fundamentally distinct from domestic law that some even question whether it is the law at all. Unlike domestic law, in which the state can create, enforce, and interpret the laws, there is no higher authority above states in international law. As a result, states serve as both creators, enforcers, and adjudicators of international law and are subject to it. Most confoundingly, even though there is no higher authority than states in the international system, states tend to comply with international law most of the time. Further, when they do violation international law, they go to great lengths to defend their actions as within compliance with the law. To understand when and why states treat international “law” as the law in our international system, one must understand both the components of a sound legal argument and the political motivations shaping how laws are created, when they are followed, and when they are ignored.
Leah L. Carmichael is lecturer in the department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia.
Chapter 1: Anatomy of a Legal Argument
Chapter 2: States in International Law
Chapter 3: Quasi-States in International Law
Chapter 4: Treaties
Chapter 5: International Customary Law
Chapter 6: General Principles
Chapter 7: Subsidiary Sources
Chapter 8: Dispute Resolution Mechanism
Chapter 9: Territorial Claims
Chapter 10: The Use of Force
Chapter 11: International Humanitarian Law
Chapter 12: International Criminal Law
Chapter 13: International Human Rights Law
This is an excellent text! The author presents difficult concepts, such as Customary International Law and the status of States, in a way that can be easily understood by students new to International Law. The introductory chapter explaining approaches to international law and the chapter explaining legal arguments provide students with the necessary background to understand the examples and cases in each chapter. The Moot Court activities are suitable for all students whether or not they want to pursue a legal career.
Leah Carmichael is to be congratulated on producing an innovative, engaging, and thought-provoking text bridging the International Law-International Relations divide. 'Is International Law Even Law?' provides a refreshing, pedagogy-oriented set of resources that will be of value to students and teachers alike
[T]he author’s major contribution is the creation of a series of concise background briefs and real or hypothetical cases. Each of the 12 short, easy-to-read, substantive chapters is focused on a legal issue that is illustrated by a fictional or real-world moot court case. To illustrate issues surrounding territorial claims, for instance, the author has created a hypothetical case where Russia claims that the new US Space Force would violate the Outer Space Treaty if it claimed territory on the moon. Given its relevance to current events, this text would work well either as a guide for instructors or as a supplemental text in a political science department's international law course…[T]his is a valuable pedagogical resource. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Faculty.