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The international rules governing the use of military force are under unprecedented scrutiny, following the removal of Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein in wars that were not sanctioned by the UN. Michael Byers’s accessible and authoritative book addresses five broad issues: UN Security Council authorization, self-defence against terrorism, pre-emptive war, humanitarian and pro-democratic intervention, and the protection of civilians and combatants during armed conflict.
The issues are examined through a series of case studies, ranging from the 1837 Caroline Incident to the mistreatment of detainees by US forces at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq. Particular attention is devoted to the legal controversies that surrounded the 1999 and 2001 interventions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and the 2003 war in Iraq.
Byers traces the development of international humanitarian law from the 1859 Battle of Solferino to the present, including the protections owed to prisoners of war and the role of war crimes tribunals and the International Criminal Court. He also considers the unique influence of the United States in the ongoing evolution and application of this highly contentious area of international law. War Law is an invaluable and accessible introduction to these diverse but critically important issues.
War Law is neither a textbook nor a treatise, but rather an informative and stimulating read for the educated and intellectually curious non-specialist about these continually divisive, critically important issues.