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Authors

Rosalyn Higgins

Document Type

Article

Abstract

INTERNATIONAL LAW IN CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE: THE PUBLIC ORDER OF THE WORLD COMMUNITY. By Myres S. McDougal and W. Michael Reisman. Mineola, New York- Foundation Press, 1981. Pp. lxviii, 1584. $29.00.

This monumental collection of cases and materials brings to fruition many years of effort by the authors, assisted at various stages of the project by other colleagues. For those who have been exposed to the culture shock of a policy science course on international law (and survived the experience) and for those who have had the intellectual stimulation of teaching such a course, the publication of this book is an important event. It makes available a radically different approach to the teaching of international law. This difference lies not in its content: a student who has mastered these materials will emerge with an enormous knowledge of substantive international law. The authors have never selected for our instruction materials that are ephemeral or singular, nor do they do so now. The traditionalist will feel neither that vital source materials are missing, nor that undue emphasis is given to materials of no weight. This is not the sort of fashionable textbook that is full of (ill-informed) letters to the New York Times on current problems of international law, but in which the Lotus case and the Vienna Convention on Treaties are inexplicably missing. Rather, the difference between this and other texts is one of approach and structure. By breaking away from the traditional textbook headings, the authors show that the real interrelationship of the different facets of international law is a dynamic rather than a static process. This structural approach demonstrates the importance of contextual analysis, and stresses ways in which international law is directed toward the attainment of certain policy objectives and the promotion of particular values.

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