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Understanding International Law

February 2010, ©2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Understanding International Law (EHEP001919) cover image


Understanding International Law presents a comprehensive, accessible introduction to the various aspects of international law while addressing its interrelationship with world politics.
  • Presents well-organized, balanced coverage of all aspects of international law
  • Features an accompanying website with direct access to court cases and study and discussion questions.  Visit the site at: www.wiley.com/go/internationallaw
  • Includes discussion of the efficacy of international law, a topic unique among international law texts
  • Offers discussion of other topics that most texts do not address, such as complete chapters on making the world safer, human rights, the environment, and the world economy
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Table of Contents

List of Boxes


List of Abbreviations

Part I: Making the World More Lawful:

1. The Rise of International Law

The Nature of International Law

The Roles of International Law

The Early Beginnings of International Law

Dueling Philosophies

Contending Modern Approaches

Operating Conditions: What Helps and What Hinders?

Chapter Summary

2. A World of Actors: A Question of Legal Standing


The State

International Government Organizations

Non-government Organizations

Multinational Corporations



Ethnic Groups


Mercenaries and Private Military Companies

Domestic Actors

Chapter Summary

3. The Sources of International Law: Creating Law without Government

Customary Law

Treaty Law

The Role of Principles

Judges and Publicists

Other Sources?

The Scope of International Law

Chapter Summary

4. The Efficacy of International Law

Legislating International Law

Enforcing International Law

Adjudicating International Law

The Incorporation of International Law

Can There Be a Future World Government?

Chapter Summary

5. Jurisdiction: Domain over Places and Persons

Territorial Jurisdiction

Law of the Sea


Outer Space


The Polar Regions


Dual Nationality

Alien Status

Sovereign Immunity and Act of State



Chapter Summary

Part II: Making the World Safer:

6. Diplomacy in Pursuit of Peace

A Brief History of Diplomacy

The Rules of Diplomacy for States

Two Special Issues concerning Embassies

Rules for the Consular Relations of States

The Peaceful Settlement of Disputes

The Operating Conditions of Diplomacy

The Rules of Diplomacy for IGOs

The Special Case of the UN

Chapter Summary

7. Arms Limitations for a Less Violent World

A Brief History of Arms Limitations

Objectives of Arms Limitations

Obstacles to Arms Limitations

The Nuclear Regime

The Biological Weapons Regime

The Chemical Weapons Regime

The Missile Control Regime

The Conventional Weapons Regime

Chapter Summary

8. Law to Constrain Force

A Brief History of the Laws Governing Force

Evolution to UN Law


Self-defense in an Age of Terrorism



Today’s Salient Issues concerning the Laws of War

Chapter Summary

9. Core International Crimes: Atrocities That Shock the Conscience of Humankind 

A Brief History of Core International Crimes

Crimes against Peace

Crimes against Humanity


The Most Notorious Episodes of Genocide

Special Dimensions of Genocide

War Crimes

The Contributions of International Tribunals

Chapter Summary

Part III: Making the World Better:

10. Human Rights: Freedom and Protection for Humankind

A Brief History of the Human Rights Movement

Civil and Political Rights

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

Group Rights

A Human Rights Frontier?

Human Rights Regimes

The Role of Non-state Actors

Chapter Summary

11. The Global Environment in Jeopardy

A Brief History of Environmental Developments






The Environment and Human Rights

Environmental Governance

Chapter Summary

12. Rules for Sharing the World’s Wealth

A Brief History of Economic Relations
Governance from the North

Standardizing the Global Economy

Intellectual Property Rights

Commercial Arbitration

Globalism versus Regionalism

Governance of the South

Four Economic Flows in the North-South Relationship

Counter-productive Issues for the Global Economy: Organized Crime,

Corruption, and the Pursuit of Non-economic Goals

Chapter Summary

Part IV: Making the Future:

13. The Problems and Prospects of International Law

Glossary of Terms



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Author Information

Conway W. Henderson is a retired professor of Political Science who has taught courses in International Relations and International Law for more than three decades.
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Presents a well-organized textbook with balanced coverage of all aspects of international law
  • Features an accompanying website with direct access to court cases and study and discussion questions
  • Includes discussion of the efficacy of international law, a topic unique among international law texts
  • Topics covered include the philosophical origins of international law; diplomacy and arms limitations; international crimes and atrocities; human rights; environmental considerations; and reflections on the future of international law
  • Addresses international law’s relationship and interdependency with world politics
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"Henderson seeks to provide a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the field of international law. Addressing its interrelationship with world politics, the text also features chapters on topics such as making the world safer, human rights, the environment and the world economy." (Times Higher Education, November 2010)

“This is likely to be the first volume I reach for on my international law bookshelf. It is comprehensive in its coverage, balanced in its treatment of controversial legal issues, and unencumbered by jargon and obscure legal references. I especially appreciate its attention to the intermingling of international law and politics.”
David Kinsella, Portland State University

“Engaging and accessible, it capitalizes on the new direction and culture of international law scholarship. Henderson’s focus on humanity and human rights infuses the material with relevance and urgency and pushes the book toward the frontiers of new law.”
Thomas Smith, University of South Florida

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Students Resources
Wiley Student Companion Site
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Purchase Options
Wiley E-Text   
Understanding International Law
ISBN : 978-1-4443-2593-5
488 pages
June 2011
$41.50   BUY

Understanding International Law
ISBN : 978-1-4051-9765-6
486 pages
February 2010, ©2010
$59.95   BUY

Understanding International Law
ISBN : 978-1-4051-9764-9
486 pages
February 2010
$117.95   BUY

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