Press Release: Posner, The Perils of Global Legalism

October 5, 2009
By

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From the Geneva Conventions to the United Nations to the International Criminal Court, the steady progress of international law has been hailed by politicians and the general public alike, representing a perpetual hope that conflict between nations need not end in belligerence, unilateralism, and war.
Eric Posner believes that’s a naïve—and even dangerous—way of understanding how nations behave, and with The Perils of Global Legalism he lays waste to the illusion that international law will ever offer a meaningful alternative to the reality of nations acting in their own self-interest. After tracing the historical roots of the concept, Posner explains the fundamental problems of legitimacy and enforcement that render international law toothless; then, drawing on examples from land mine bans and free trade to NATO’s invasion of Serbia, he goes on to demonstrate that time and again, when faced with tough choices, leaders have blatantly disregarded international agreements in the name of perceived national interests.
As the Obama administration’s foreign policy—and its approach to international law—faces its first real tests in the coming years, The Perils of Global Legalism will be essential reading.
Read the press release. Also read an excerpt.

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