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This updated and revised second edition of Advanced Introduction to International Conflict and Security Law provides a concise and insightful guide to the key principles of international law governing peacetime security, arms control, the use of force, armed conflict and postconflict situations. Nigel D. White explores the complex legal regimes that have been created to control levels of armaments, to limit the occasions when governments can use military force, to mitigate the conduct of warfare and to build peace.

There are many general introductory texts on international law, although the subject is now so vast that they are impossibly thin (with certain exceptions, for example, Vaughan Lowe's International Law), or more compendious yet unwieldy (for example Malcolm Shaw's International Law). Within international law there are now developed legal regimes governing human rights, the environment, trade … and accompanying literature; but there are numerous ways of examining international law. One way would be to look at issues of jurisdiction or responsibility that are common to each area; another way would be to bring together substantive areas of international law that are intimately related but, because of their increasing complexity, have been subject to separate treatment in the literature. In this regard, there are separate monograph or textbook treatments of arms control, collective security, the use of force, the law of armed conflict, post-conflict law or jus post bellum, many of which are referenced in this work.

The idea behind this book is to bring together the legal regimes addressing the basic issue of regulating violence between states and within states within a coherent and accessible introductory text. The intention, though, is not simply to provide readers with a set of ‘rules’ governing uses of force, armed conflicts and the various actors involved in collective security, since international law does not work in this way in such a highly politicised area of international relations. Instead, the normative frameworks that have been developed to shape political action are identified and analysed in terms of legitimacy and efficacy as well as legality. To quote Martti Koskenniemi: ‘Legal argument is never deduction from p. viiself-evident rules. It always adds to our understanding of the law, and thus to the identity, objective, and principles of the community’.1


M. Koskenniemi, ‘The Place of Law in Collective Security’ (1996) 17 Michigan Journal of International Law 456 at 480.