MAN AND THE WORLD: International Law at Work by Richard Deming

MAN AND THE WORLD: International Law at Work

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The average person would probably agree with Abba Eban's characterization of international law as ""the law which the wicked do not obey and the righteous do not enforce."" However, Deming shows that for all its weaknesses international law is probably stronger than ever before -- thanks to the increasing influence of informed public opinion and to the growing network of the United Nations and other supranational organizations. The philosophical question of the foundations of international law -- whether it is based purely on custom and agreement or whether there is such a thing as abstract justice or a natural moral law -- is presented in a manner that challenges easy assumptions about the existence of an absolute right and wrong in most international disputes. But most of Deming's cited cases tend to reinforce the presumption that international forums are used more often as a tool of policy than a source of impartial arbitration. Unfortunately, the rather professorial style and the descriptive format -- which plods through organization by organization, term by term -- will deter readers primarily interested in how international law touches on current events, and Deming might have broadened his rather inconclusive discussion of the legal background of the Vietnam War, the Czechoslovakian invasion and other headlined crises. Like Deming's survey of civil law (Man Against Man, KR, 1972) this may be too detailed and abstract for casual readers, but it does provide a systematic, objective orientation for the slightly older student.

Pub Date: June 7th, 1974
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Hawthorn