The Evolving Dimensions of International Law: Hard Choices for the World Community


John F. MurphyVillanova University, Pennsylvania


This book examines recent developments in sources of public international law, such as treaties and custom operating among nations in their mutual relations, as well as developments in some of the primary rules of law international institutions created by these processes. It finds that public international law has become increasingly dysfunctional in dealing with some of the primary problems facing the world community, such as the maintenance of international peace and security, violations of international human rights and the law of armed conflict, arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, and international environmental issues, and that international law and international institutions face a problematic future. It concludes, however, that all is not lost. There are possible alternative futures for international law and legal process, but choosing among them will require the world community making hard choices.

Key Features

  • The book contains an in-depth analysis of the nature of modern day international law, in theory and practice
  • It discusses in detail the problems facing international law and selected international institutions that render them, in some instances, dysfunctional
  • It elaborates the hard choices that member states and other members of the world community must make if the current situation is to be improved


“An impressive tour across the variegated landscape of modern international law. As always, John Murphy is expert yet accessible, opinionated yet balanced, passionate yet sane. An important book about an important subject.” Mark Janis, William F. Starr Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law

“In this classic treatment of international law in world politics, John Murphy identifies the choices states and their constituencies need to make to maintain the effectiveness of international law and institutions today. With a focus on state behavior over a range of key international issues, Murphy reminds us of the continued importance of the state as a political force in the shaping of world order.” – Charlotte Ku, Assistant Dean, University of Illinois College of Law and Co-Director, Center on Law and Globalization

Book Details

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521882710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521882712


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