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The Power and Purpose of International LawInsights from the Theory and Practice of Enforcement$
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Mary Ellen O'Connell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195368949

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195368949.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Power and Purpose of International Law

Mary Ellen O'Connell

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with an overview of the entire volume, starting with a report of top United States government lawyers after 9/11 developing legal arguments to justify torture and coercion of detainees during interrogation. These lawyers could draw on an anti-international law tradition that denigrates international law for its lack of enforcement means. In fact international law has means of enforcement, but, more importantly, it is accepted by the international community as law. Acceptance and enforcement together support the claim that international law is law. With this acceptance, international law has the capacity to support the common aspirations of all humanity.

Keywords:   torture, detainees, interrogation, anti-international, enforcement, acceptance of legal authority, international community

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