This textbook written by five co-authors provides an easy-to-understand elucidation of international law. International law is the backbone of our international society. What comes to mind when you think of international law? It can vary in scope from the laws governing the sea, aviation, and space, to cyberspace and national security law; from economic, financial, and environmental law to energy law; and from human rights and humanitarian law to sports law—just to name a few. Of all the fields of law, international law is the one that covers the widest area. In addition, law of state responsibility that govern the legal consequences for breaches of international law, and law of treaties that establish rules common to different treaties, are also very important. International law is lingua franca of the international community. It is also what one must properly understand if one seeks to truly gain what we call an “international awareness” or “diplomatic sense”.
In this era, when we are facing severe security challenges, with some States continually disrupting order at sea or conducting nuclear weapons testing and firing off missiles, it is all the more critical to emphasize the rule of law in the international community. Although there are large number of books about international politics, we sometimes see inaccurate expressions when it comes to international law. One example would be the outdated and inaccurate statement that “embassies are extraterritorial.” International law can be the most important “weapon” for diplomats, but it is surely not limited to use by the diplomat; it is an indispensable “weapon” for all of us who live in this era of globalization.
While keeping abstract description to a minimum, we did our best to provide the most recent examples. We also included seventeen special columns to make it enjoyable for readers. We began to study international law at the University of Tokyo in 1980s. The first edition was published in 2006 and we are proud to say that 2016 marks the book’s third edition.
(Written by NAKATANI Kazuhiro, Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics / 2018)