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Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law


What the term ‘Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law’ lacks in elegance it compensates for as an accurate description of both the genesis and continuing object and purpose of this work. The first edition, published in 1986, was a union of two separate projects: one, started by the late Professor Clive Parry at the University of Cambridge, was essentially an encyclopaedia of international law in English and in short compass; the other, started by one of the current editors and a group of international lawyers teaching at Scottish law schools, was more in the nature of a dictionary of international law. When these two projects were put together in the early 1980s, the result was truly a dictionary plus or an encyclopaedia minus: an encyclopaedic dictionary.

The present editors remain convinced of the utility of this approach. A dictionary of international law properly so called (and there are some) tells a reader what a term or concept means, but says nothing about the context in which that term or concept is used in international law, nor about its effect. On the other hand, an encyclopaedia of international law tells the reader all, or more than, he or she needs to know about the context and effect of areas (not terms and concepts) of the law; but, being often of great length and broadly grouped under headings, may not provide quick and easy access to the information the reader seeks. And given the predilection of legal scholars, including international legal scholars, for describing and analysing and commenting on terms and concepts without defining them, there is, it is submitted, a need for a work that defines terms and concepts, locates them in the appropriate subject area of international law, and briefly explains their effect.

This Encyclopaedic Dictionary is intended to embrace mainstream international law—what might be called the law of peace and the law of war. As international law expands horizontally, and as new subject areas appear and new sub-disciplines are established with a vocabulary of their own, it becomes increasingly difficult for any individual or group to master the terminology of the whole of contemporary international law. The editors believe that their selection for inclusion in this work reflects the needs of the generalist rather than the specialist.

This edition continues to include more material on mainstream international law, particularly human rights and humanitarian law, international criminal law, and international organizational law. The digests of World Court and major arbitral cases have been updated and expanded. The principal, especially multilateral, treaties are noted and referenced. Considerations of space have kept the biographies of leading figures in international law limited to those whose writings have singled them out. Considerations of space have also forced the editors to excise all digests of municipal law decisions. No documentary appendices have been included in this edition, the documents contained in the last edition (the U.N. Charter, the I.C.J. Statute and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties) being so readily available in hard copy and online as to render inclusion here superfluous. Bibliographical references, too, have had to be kept to a minimum necessary to enable a reader to delve beyond the entries in this work.

While each entry is intended to be self-contained, with reference material and citations in full, entries are also cross-referenced with related terms or cases by the simple expedient of using bold text. The Table of Abbreviations contains only reference material actually used in the Encyclopaedic Dictionary and no acronyms; these now appearing as entries. In citing treaties, the editors have gone first to three principal sources: the Consolidated Treaty Series, the League of Nations Treaty Series and the United Nations Treaty Series.

The editors intended that this edition should be ‘definitive’ in that it was to be more than, in the words of the Preface to the first edition, a ‘first attempt’ or the expansion and update of the second edition; but the revision of existing entries and compilation of new entries have convinced the editors that there can be no definitive edition of a dictionary of a living and expanding discipline like international law.

The editors have many to thank for their assistances and support. Two talented Lewis & Clark Law School students deserve special mention for devoting considerable time and care to checking citations, Jennifer L. Forbes and Jason A. Gray. As with the second edition, valuable assistance was afforded by staff at the Boley Law Library at Lewis & Clark Law School, particularly research librarian Wendy Hitchcock, the finder of the unfindable. The new publishers of this work, Oxford University Press, particularly editor Michelle Lipinski, production editor Sarah Bloxham, and Dayalan Nishantini and his expert team of copy-setters, acted with the expertise and professionalism one associates with the world's leading university press—and were, in addition, a joy to work with. As ever, a debt that can never be adequately repaid is owed to Elaine Sutherland, and to Kim Barker, Megan, and Mackenzie.

Dr. Samuel Johnson is reputed to have replied to a lady who enquired why, in his dictionary, he had defined a pastern as the knee of a horse: ‘Ignorance ma’am! Sheer ignorance’. The editors of this dictionary, bearing full responsibility for any errors, offer, in advance, the same defence.

John P. Grant

Portland, Oregon

J. Craig Barker

Brighton, England

January 2009