skip to Main Content

Book Review: Foreign Policy of the European Union—Assessing Europe’s Role in the World. By Federiga Bindi and Irina Angelescu (eds.)

For­eign Pol­i­cy of the Euro­pean Union—Assessing Europe’s Role in the World sets out to treat the for­eign rela­tions of the EU in a holis­tic, all-encom­pass­ing man­ner. For this pur­pose the book is divid­ed into five parts, each of which devel­ops a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the EU’s exter­nal actions.

Read More

Book Review: Cipriani’s Children’s Rights and the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

This install­ment in our ongo­ing series of book reviews looks at Children’s Rights and the Min­i­mum Age of Crim­i­nal Respon­si­bil­i­ty by Don Cipri­ani. Michael Gigante’s review takes a crit­i­cal eye towards the argu­ments Cipri­ani advances in favor of requir­ing all nations to estab­lish a min­i­mum age of crim­i­nal respon­si­bil­i­ty.

By Michael V. Gigante

Children’s Rights and the Minimum Age of Criminal ResponsibilityIdeas about the prop­er role of crim­i­nal respon­si­bil­i­ty in juve­nile jus­tice tend to fall along a wel­fare-jus­tice con­tin­u­um. The wel­fare approach, promi­nent at the birth of the mod­ern notion of a juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem, essen­tial­ly dis­missed the notions of com­pe­tence and crim­i­nal respon­si­bil­i­ty for chil­dren. State author­i­ties inter­vened to make benev­o­lent deci­sions on behalf of chil­dren, who were por­trayed as objects with­out lib­er­ty rights. On the oth­er end of the con­tin­u­um, the jus­tice approach—towards which clear shifts have occurred in recent decades—places crim­i­nal respon­si­bil­i­ty and children’s alleged com­pe­tence at the cen­ter of juve­nile jus­tice. Account­abil­i­ty, due process, and pun­ish­ment are the foun­da­tions of this approach. In Children’s Rights and the Min­i­mum Age of Crim­i­nal Respon­si­bil­i­ty: A Glob­al Per­spec­tive, Don Cipri­ani points out the flaws of both these approach­es and describes the mer­its of a children’s rights approach as a way to medi­ate between the ten­sions of the wel­fare and jus­tice approach­es.

Read More

Book Review: Stacy’s Human Rights for the 21st Century

In the lat­est install­ment of book reviews, Nali­ni Gup­ta lauds Human Rights for the 21st Cen­tu­ry, by Helen M. Sta­cy for pro­vid­ing a com­pre­hen­sive analy­sis of human rights work. How­ev­er, Gup­ta notes that Sta­cy risks over­sim­pli­fy­ing the issues in her attempt to divide major cri­tiques of the inter­na­tion­al human rights sys­tem into three cat­e­gories: sov­er­eign­ty, civ­il soci­ety, and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.

By Nali­ni Gup­ta

In Human Rights for the 21st Cen­tu­ry, Helen Sta­cy address­es the major cri­tiques of the inter­na­tion­al human rights frame­work, offer­ing sug­ges­tions on how to fill gaps in the cur­rent sys­tem in order to strength­en the frame­work. Sta­cy orga­nizes the major cri­tiques of the inter­na­tion­al human rights sys­tem into three cat­e­gories: sov­er­eign­ty, civ­il soci­ety, and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. Respond­ing to each of these cri­tiques, she argues that the law and the courts must con­tin­ue to play a crit­i­cal role in the human rights sys­tem, but their role must be adjust­ed to adapt to the chal­lenges posed by the cur­rent world order. Stacy’s book is a wor­thy read, pro­vid­ing a com­pre­hen­sive analy­sis of the cur­rent chal­lenges of the cur­rent human rights frame­work and offer­ing inter­est­ing and prac­ti­cal pro­pos­als aimed at improv­ing the present sys­tem.

Read More

Book Review: Re-Envisioning Sovereignty: The End of Westphalia?

In this edi­tion of our ongo­ing series of book reviews, Paul Mignano presents a crit­i­cal but ulti­mate­ly favor­able take on Re-Envi­sion­ing Sov­er­eign­ty: The End of West­phalia?a col­lec­tion of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary essays dis­cussing the con­cept of sov­er­eign­ty.


By Paul Mignano


Re-envisioning SovereigntyFor a con­cept that is so cen­tral to inter­na­tion­al rela­tions and pub­lic inter­na­tion­al law, the mean­ing of “sov­er­eign­ty” is sur­pris­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to artic­u­late. At its essence, West­phalian sov­er­eign­ty is about the abil­i­ty of a state to engage in polit­i­cal self-deter­mi­na­tion, to be con­sid­ered a legal equal of oth­er states, and to ensure non-inter­fer­ence of out­side states in its own inter­nal affairs.

Read More

Book Review: Temkin’s The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair

This install­ment in our ongo­ing series of book reviews fea­tures J. Ben­ton Heath’s assess­ment of Moshik Temkin’s The Sac­co-Vanzetti Affair: Amer­i­ca on Tri­al. In his review, Heath finds that Temkin’s book brings a unique inter­na­tion­al dimen­sion to the analy­sis of the Sac­co-Vanzetti affair, and reveals how events sur­round­ing Sac­co and Vanzetti informed ongo­ing dia­logue on U.S. glob­al dom­i­nance and domes­tic pol­i­cy.

By J. Ben­ton Heath

Two years after the 1927 exe­cu­tion of Ital­ian-Amer­i­can anar­chists Nico­lai Sac­co and Bar­tolomeo Vanzetti, H.L.Mencken wrote that their case “refus­es to yield.… The vic­tims con­tin­ue to walk, haunt­ing the con­science of Amer­i­ca, of the civ­i­lized world.” Eight decades have passed since Mencken’s writ­ing, yet Sac­co and Vanzetti con­tin­ue to stalk the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion, attract­ing renewed inter­est from schol­ars, jour­nal­ists, com­men­ta­tors, and nov­el­ists. Temkin’s engag­ing and insight­ful work attempts to estab­lish the his­tor­i­cal place of Sac­co and Vanzetti by focus­ing on the nation­wide and transat­lantic dimen­sions of their case. By focus­ing on the inter­na­tion­al reac­tions to the con­vic­tions and exe­cu­tions, and on the effects of for­eign crit­i­cism, Temkin finds his own unique niche among the exten­sive schol­ar­ship on the case.

Read More

Book Review: Against the Death Penalty (Yorke ed.)

Con­tin­u­ing our ongo­ing series of book reviews, Alexan­da McCown assess­es Against the Death Penal­ty: Inter­na­tion­al Ini­tia­tives and Impli­ca­tions, edit­ed by Jon Yorke The book focus­es on what empir­i­cal­ly have been suc­cess­ful chal­lenges to the death penal­ty and explores the rela­tion­ship between pub­lic opin­ion and death penal­ty pol­i­cy. How­ev­er, giv­en that the book dis­cuss­es how life with­out parole might be an alter­na­tive to the death penal­ty that still vio­lates human rights, this review­er laments the book’s omis­sion of oth­er viable alter­na­tive sen­tences to the death penal­ty.

By Alexan­dra McCown

In Novem­ber 2003, a jury deliv­ered the death sen­tence to John Allen Muham­mad, one of the two men behind the Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-area sniper attacks in 2002. The exe­cu­tion took place in 2009, almost six years to the day after his sen­tenc­ing. If Muham­mad had car­ried out the same crimes in Europe, he would not have been sub­ject to cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. In still oth­er parts of the world, like the Caribbean, he may have received the death penal­ty, but ulti­mate­ly his sen­tence would have been com­mut­ed since he remained on death row longer than five years. What accounts for region­al dif­fer­ences in issu­ing (or not issu­ing) cap­i­tal sanc­tions for heinous crimes such as the sniper attacks? Fur­ther, if Muham­mad had received a sen­tence of life in prison with­out the pos­si­bil­i­ty of parole (LWOP) in the Unit­ed States or any oth­er coun­try, would that real­ly have been prefer­able to a death sen­tence? Can short­er sen­tences effec­tive­ly pun­ish the per­pe­tra­tor and pro­tect soci­ety from future crime while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly respect­ing crim­i­nals’ human rights?

Read More

Book Review: Begley’s Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters

This install­ment in our ongo­ing series of book reviews takes on Why the Drey­fus Affair Mat­ters by lawyer/novelist Louis Beg­ley.  Hugh Murtaugh’s com­pli­men­ta­ry review of Begley’s work inter­twines the Drey­fus and the Guan­tanamo nar­ra­tives.  Both Beg­ley and this review­er con­clude with the same lament from Proust: “As for ask­ing one­self about its val­ue, not one thought of it now .… It was no longer shock­ing. That was all that was required.”

By Hugh K. Murtagh

The sto­ry of Guan­tanamo Bay is not over. Pres­i­dent Oba­ma will not be able to shut­ter the island prison until at least 2011, and then only by mov­ing the remain­ing detainees to a state­side facil­i­ty. Time pass­es, details emerge: the “Camp Delta Stan­dard Oper­at­ing Pro­ce­dures” find their way onto the inter­net; a mil­i­tary judge will not allow the pros­e­cu­tion of a ter­ror­ist leader because he has been so bad­ly abused; Sami al-Hajj, the al-Jazeera jour­nal­ist held for years on chang­ing unsub­stan­ti­at­ed charges, is final­ly released to Sudan, with his diaries.

Read More

Book Review: Clarke’s Fictions of Justice

This edi­tion of our ongo­ing series of book reviews offers a crit­i­cal but ulti­mate­ly pos­i­tive take on Kamari Max­ine Clarke’s Fic­tions of Jus­tice: The Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court and the  Chal­lenge of Legal Plu­ral­ism in Sub-Saha­ran Africa. This book review is par­tic­u­lar­ly time­ly, as the recent ECCC ver­dict in the “Duch” tri­al reminds us of that court’s land­mark deci­sion ear­li­er this sum­mer, which reject­ed one con­tro­ver­sial form of “joint crim­i­nal enter­prise” lia­bil­i­ty.  Kel­ly Geoghegan’s review, pub­lished in issue no. 42:3 of JILP, takes the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lev­el her own crit­i­cism, or skep­ti­cism, at JCE the­o­ry.

By Kel­ly Geoghe­gan

Fic­tions of Jus­tice is Kamari Max­ine Clarke’s search­ing anthro­po­log­i­cal cri­tique of both the inter­na­tion­al rule of law move­ment and its flag­ship tri­bunal, the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court (ICC). Clarke explores the unspo­ken assump­tions, or “fic­tions,” that under­lie this move­ment, show­ing that these assump­tions priv­i­lege West­ern ideas of jus­tice over African ones and obscure the post-colo­nial eco­nom­ic forces behind Africa’s tur­moil. Ulti­mate­ly, Fic­tions of Jus­tice is an anthro­po­log­i­cal work, not a legal text. Still, the book has potent insights to offer legal prac­ti­tion­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly activists work­ing “on behalf of vic­tims” to achieve “uni­ver­sal” ideals of jus­tice.

Read More

Book Review: The Least Worst Place (Karen Greenberg)

Con­tin­u­ing with the theme of armed con­flict, deten­tion, and ter­ror­ism, the lat­est install­ment in our occa­sion­al series of book reviews address­es Karen Greenberg’s The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 DaysThis review may also be found in Issue 42:3 of the Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al Law and Pol­i­tics.

By John Wun­der­lin

In the pref­ace to The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days, Karen Green­berg briefly sets out the aim of the book: to describe the ear­ly days of the Guan­tanamo Bay deten­tion facil­i­ty, in which few abus­es occurred despite incred­i­bly try­ing cir­cum­stances, and to ask whether this nar­ra­tive sheds any light on how lat­er abus­es came to occur and how such abus­es might be avoid­ed in the future. Per­haps in def­er­ence to the com­plex­i­ty and dif­fi­cul­ty of the sub­ject, Green­berg nev­er tries to for­mu­late the lessons as a set of pol­i­cy pre­scrip­tions. Nev­er­the­less, she suc­ceeds in devel­op­ing a strong under­stand­ing of how cer­tain forces and cir­cum­stances gath­ered to cre­ate a dis­as­ter at Guan­tanamo while oth­er forces worked to keep dis­as­ter at bay.

Read More

Book Review: Terrorism, War and International Law (Myra Williamson)

This occa­sion­al series will high­light the book anno­ta­tions that con­sti­tute the back pages of every issue of the NYU Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al Law and Pol­i­tics.  We are begin­ning with this review of Myra Williamson’s Ter­ror­ism, War and Inter­na­tion­al Law: The Legal­i­ty of the Use of Force Against Afghanistan in 2001, because it rais­es the cru­cial ques­tion of the right of States to use force in self-defense against non-State actors.  This issue sits in the back­ground of much of the current debates about the use of force, most recent­ly in Pro­fes­sor Alston’s Tar­get­ed Killings report.

By Gra­ham F. Dumas

Myra Williamson’s Ter­ror­ism, War and Inter­na­tion­al Law: The Legal­i­ty of the Use of Force Against Afghanistan in 2001 comes at a time when the con­flict in Afghanistan is return­ing to the fore of U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy and as the fight against ter­ror­ism con­tin­ues to expand. Yet many of the legal ques­tions sur­round­ing this con­flict were sim­ply glossed over at the time of the invasion and have not yet been sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly resolved.

Bas­ing her argu­ment main­ly on legal his­to­ry, Williamson asserts that the use of force against Afghanistan could not be legal­ly con­sid­ered self-defense accord­ing to the U.N. Char­ter because there was no armed attack for the pur­pos­es of Arti­cle 51, because the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil did not autho­rize uni­lat­er­al force in Res­o­lu­tion 1368, and because Al Qaeda’s actions could not be attrib­uted to the Tal­iban. Sim­i­lar­ly, the author argues that the inva­sion of Afghanistan was not legal under cus­tom­ary inter­na­tion­al law because it was nei­ther nec­es­sary nor pro­por­tion­ate, and there was no imme­di­ate threat of attack in the weeks fol­low­ing Sep­tem­ber 11.

In vig­or­ous­ly assert­ing the ille­gal­i­ty of the inva­sion of Afghanistan, Williamson rais­es a num­ber of inter­est­ing points
and pro­vokes a great deal of thought, espe­cial­ly with respect to the many weak­er links in the argu­ment for the invasion’s law­ful­ness. As she notes, the Inter­na­tion­al Court of Jus­tice (ICJ) has held on numer­ous occa­sions that Arti­cle 51 applies only to armed attacks by states, and the link between Al Qae­da and the Tal­iban is indeed ten­u­ous, espe­cial­ly under a clas­si­cal inter­pre­ta­tion of the law. Par­tic­u­lar­ly insight­ful is the study of the opinio juris of var­i­ous NATO mem­bers with respect to that organization’s dec­la­ra­tion that an armed attack occurred; the author sug­gests that what appeared to be a unan­i­mous dec­la­ra­tion that Sep­tem­ber 11 was suf­fi­cient to trig­ger the inher­ent right of self-defense was in fact any­thing but. Despite these effec­tive points, Ter­ror­ism, War and Inter­na­tion­al Law is a dis­ap­point­ing and ulti­mate­ly unsuc­cess­ful effort which leaves out more than it includes, treats as fact sev­er­al high­ly con­tentious claims nec­es­sary to sup­port the main the­sis, and often fails to address the post-Afghanistan era’s most press­ing legal ques­tions.

Read More
Back To Top
Search