International Law : Our Common Future book cover
1st Edition

International Law
Our Common Future

ISBN 9781138104464
Published December 9, 2019 by Routledge
456 Pages

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USD $69.95

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Book Description

International Law: Our Common Future offers a dynamic approach to the study of international law that actively engages students in ways that more traditional textbooks do not. One way this is achieved is by focusing on recent events, including international terrorism, extraordinary rendition, the legality of drone strikes, environmental devastation, and human rights. Another is by having students wrestle with actual court rulings rather than being given short summaries of these decisions. These cases, which are from a wide array of international, regional, and domestic tribunals, are followed by a series of provocative and challenging questions and prompts that will naturally lead to classroom discussion and debate.

The book recognizes the importance of visual media in terms of student learning. In addition to photographs of individuals and events that feature prominently in the development of international law, each chapter has sections entitled "International Law at the Movies" which highlight feature films and documentaries that explore the topic at hand.

What students will quickly come to realize is that international law is not a distant and abstract entity, but rather, is intimately connected to various aspects of their daily lives. The book shows some of the remarkable changes in international law, most notably the declining importance of the role of the state. As a final point, the book is written in an engaging, almost conversational, style that is accessible to students in a wide array of academic disciplines.


This book is specifically designed to appeal to student interest, to promote active learning, and to integrate carefully edited court cases with explanatory text. Here are just a few of the features devoted to achieving these goals:

  • Boxed text highlighting current events
  • “International Law at the Movies” boxes
  • Photos illustrating key moments and figures in international law
  • Cases carefully edited and set off from the main text
  • Notes and Comments following court case excerpts
  • References for each chapter divided into key types of sources including Books and Articles, Reports, Agreements, and Cases (international, regional, and domestic tribunals)
  • Glossary of key terms putting terms in context with events
  • Filmography
  • Table of Cases with links to original sources


Title: “María, inside since April 14, 2014”
Artist: Ben Betsalel

The cover image is from a prison project in Colombia, "Human Beings Inside and Outside," done in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Table of Contents


Part I: International Terrorism

Chapter One. Fighting Terrorism Through Law

Chapter Two. Detaining "Enemy Combatants" and Suspected Terrorists

Chapter Three. Extraordinary Rendition

Part II: Warfare

Chapter Four. Just ad Bellum

Chapter Five. Jus in Bello

Part III: Accountability, Responsibility, and Immunity

Chapter Six. Individual Accountability

Chapter Seven. International Crime

Chapter Eight. Corporate Accountability

Chapter Nine. State Responsibility and Jurisdictional Limitations

Chapter Ten. Foreign and Domestic Immunities

Part IV: Human Rights

Chapter Eleven. Poverty & Disease

Chapter Twelve. Vulnerable Populations

Conclusion: Our Common Future

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Mark Gibney is the Belk Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina–Asheville. Since 1984, Gibney has directed the Political Terror Scale (PTS), which measures levels of physical integrity violations in more than 185 countries (


Praise for International Law: Our Common Future

"This textbook on international law is innovative in its pedagogical approach. Rather than seeing international law as something alien and non-relevant for us as individual citizens, Gibney very convincingly brings international law home. He demonstrates how these sets of rules are relevant in our daily lives, how we are all affected, and largely protected by international law, and ultimately how we all depend on strong and functioning international law for a common future. This is an exciting book for anyone teaching or learning international law."

Sigrun Skogly, Lancaster University, UK

"In this much-needed and refreshing volume, Mark Gibney breaks with the century-old idiosyncrasies of what an international law text book should look like. His problem-centered approach is likely to find favor with both students and teachers."

Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

"At last – an innovative and highly accessible case-driven international law textbook for undergraduates! Gibney’s plain-language approach demystifies the often-esoteric complexity of the subject by examining the intersectionalites between international and domestic law in key areas of concern – international terrorism, warfare, and human rights. Engagingly written and often including concurring and dissenting opinions, International Law: Our Common Future is an excellent active-learning text for the student-centered classroom."

Daniel J. Whelan, Hendrix College, USA

"Instructors of undergraduate international law courses have long been looking for a book like Mark Gibney's International Law: Our Common Future. He has effectively created a very accessible, interesting, and engaging text that at the same time gives students a solid introduction to the nature and functioning of international law within international politics, including analysis of several key areas, such as terrorism, war, and human rights. Most innovative compared to other texts is the illustrative use of multiple cases and court decisions, a clear writing style revealing the practical nature of the politics and daily life of international law, and sections on learning about international law through film. This book will be a great teaching tool and text in my political science course in international law."

Safia Swimelar, Elon University, USA

"Mark Gibney’s new text covers a full range of topics in international law, but it will be particularly useful to those interested in national and international security. The selection of judicial rulings provides a splendid introduction to contentious legal (and moral) debates as they have actually played out in national and international courts and tribunals."

David Kinsella, Portland State University, USA