Law & Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary combines primary materials with expert commentary, demonstrating the interaction between law and practice in the UN organization, as well as the possibilities and limitations of multilateral institutions in general. Each chapter begins with a short introductory essay by the authors that describes how the documents that follow illustrate a set of legal, institutional, and political issues relevant to the practice of diplomacy and the development of public international law through the United Nations. The authors help students form a realistic idea of the work of international diplomacy, as the negotiation and interpretation of such texts is an important part of what actually takes place at the United Nations and other international organizations. A wide variety of documents are presented, each of which must be read differently: treaties and resolutions based on political compromises, judicial opinions that are based on legal reasoning, policy documents intended to justify specific actions, and advocacy intended to pursue a national or other interest.
Students will develop the ability to read these documents critically, parsing not only the meaning but the political and bureaucratic interests behind them. Law & Practice of the United Nations is ideal for courses on the United Nations or International Organizations, taught in both law and international relations programs.