The effect of international law and international institutions on the place of war in society in the 20th century

Jones, Edmund Eric (1991). The effect of international law and international institutions on the place of war in society in the 20th century. PhD thesis The Open University.



Competing claims for primacy by national and international interests traditionally accommodated a sovereign national right to use force in international disputes. At the same time binding international law was being developed to limit wars and mitigate their excesses.

The two World Wars emphasized a need to curtail unfettered national sovereignty and increase co-operation between States. The creation of an international regulatory institution open to all States, designed to foster a climate in which peaceful resolution of international disputes was the norm would, it was hoped, eliminate a place for war in Society, Accordingly, the unsuccessful League of Nations (1919), superseded by the' United Nations Organisation (1945), were created.

Since 1945 the number of independent States in membership of the United Nations has multiplied but the organization has been dominated by two blocs formed on two nuclear powers with opposed ideologies. The effect of developing technology, and lack of consensus in both General Assembly and Security Council has been that wars have continued, weapons have become more powerful and more readily available, and States continue to put their national interests before the interests of the global society the organization was designed to protect. Technology continues to ensure a danger of nuclear war, and States continue to feel it essential to arm for defence and deterrence.

With these contemporary influences in mind this thesis considers:

(a) the International Laws of War and their application to International Law and Order,

(b) arguments which sought to justify or abolish wars, and

(c) means extant and proposed to define and confine the legal limits of war, and conduct in war, through humanitarian law, arms control and disarmament,

with a view to concluding whether international law and international institutions have affected the place of war in society in the XXth Century.

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