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Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law, 9th Edition by Crawford, James (9th July 2019)


James Crawford SC, FBA

From: Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law (9th Edition)

James Crawford

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Subscriber: null; date: 29 January 2020

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of successive editions of Ian Brownlie’s Principles for the teaching of international law over the past half century. It is not too much to say that several generations of Anglophone international lawyers have absorbed their sense of the structure of their subject from Principles. It was both an honour and responsibility to undertake an eighth edition following Ian Brownlie’s tragic death in January 2010.1 This ninth edition follows some seven years later and captures the plethora of developments in international law which have occurred in the intervening period.

Ian was used to describing Principles as a ‘legal handbook’, but it was always much more than that, seeking to cover the broad subject matter of international law in 13 Parts and 32 chapters. In the eighth edition, these were somewhat simplified into 11 Parts and 33 chapters (with the introduction of an Introduction). Although there was some reorganization of Parts and chapters, the structure and the approach of this edition was recognizably that of earlier editions and has remained so.

As to structure, an initial review of general topics (history, sources, and the relations of international to municipal law) is followed by Parts on statehood and legal personality (into which the law of international organizations has been fitted); territorial sovereignty; law of the sea; the environment and natural resources; international transactions (including unilateral acts and succession); jurisdiction; nationality; responsibility; protection of individuals and groups; and disputes (including use of force). The result is coverage of all the major topics of classical and modern international law (with the exception of international trade law) in a form hopefully accessible to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and legal professionals alike. A feature of the present edition, suggested by one of the readers, is a summary conclusion added to most chapters.

As to approach, this is unabashedly that of the international lawyer, historically informed but aware of the climate of changes, real and attempted, which seems to threaten the fragile international order.2 Due note has been taken of these changes and threats of change, but without any attempt to predict an uncertain future.


1  A biographical memoir of Brownlie is in British Academy, XI Biographical Memoirs 55–77. See also Owada (2010) 81 BYIL 1; Lowe, ibid, 9.

2  As to this ‘seems’ cf Hamlet, Act 1, sc 2, l 77.