Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Can Might Make Rights?
Building the Rule of Law after Military Interventions

$42.99 (P)

  • Date Published: September 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521678018

$ 42.99 (P)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This book looks at why it's so difficult to create 'the rule of law' in post-conflict societies such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and offers critical insights into how policy-makers and field-workers can improve future rule of law efforts. A must-read for policy-makers, field-workers, journalists and students trying to make sense of the international community's problems in Iraq and elsewhere, this book shows how a narrow focus on building institutions such as courts and legislatures misses the more complex cultural issues that affect societal commitment to the values associated with the rule of law. The authors place the rule of law in context, showing the interconnectedness between the rule of law and other post-conflict priorities, such as reestablishing security. The authors outline a pragmatic, synergistic approach to the rule of law which promises to reinvigorate debates about transitions to democracy and post-conflict reconstruction.

    • First book to take holistic approach, looking at rule of law in context and from most angles, not just focusing on justice institutions
    • The book takes a thematic approach to the subject of post-conflict rule of law, integrating examples from a wide variety of countries
    • Brings together material on key issues and best practices in an accessible way
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Finally a single volume that coherently and intelligently examines the current wave of rule of law efforts in nation building endeavors. Its mix of theory, contemporary examples and practical guidance makes it immensely valuable to policy makers, practitioners and students a like. With refreshing candor and cognizance of the ultimate limitations of external efforts to establish the rule of law, Can Might Make Rights is nonetheless invigorating and inspiring of our ability to do this work much more effectively."
    --Deborah Isser, Senior Rule of Law Advisor, United States Institute of Peace

    "This book is an important advance in the scholarship related to transitional and post conflict issues to ensure that the rule of law is the cornerstone to a building plan in restoring a sustainable peace in a war-torn and unstable region[...]Can Might Make Rights is an honest and imminently practical resource for the policy maker, legal practitioner/advisor, and student who must understand the nuances in creating a new society or nation based on the rule of law after the shooting has stopped. This readable book helps in our understanding of the process by which we can ensure that a military intervention can produce a positive and peace-sustaining society. [...]The authors, experienced practitioners and academics, correctly focus on a synergetic approach to building the rule of law, stressing the importance of the historical and cultural context in establishing stability in the "dark corners" of the world that are used by terrorists to hide and for the beast of impunity to lurk unchecked. [...]Having been involved in military interventions or in seeking a sustainable peace after conflict all my professional life, the world is just beginning to realize that only through the rule of law will that peace be sustainable and allow for the growth of freedom and equal justice so important in the international fight on terror. I would have found this book useful in my work domestically and internationally."
    --David M. Crane, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Syracuse University College of Law

    "Can Might Make Rights addresses the most difficult challenge in the realm of military interventions, whether justified or unjustified: what to do in the aftermath. Professors Stromseth, Wippman and Brooks have written the most comprehensive and impressive book examining how the rule of law is the foundation of any society's post-intervention recovery and advancement. This is a study for the policy-making and academic worlds that brilliantly offers historical perspective, contemporary insight, and invaluable guidance for the future. It would be folly to act in ignorance of what this book teaches."
    --Professor David Scheffer, Northwestern University School of Law and former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues

    "Whether in Iraq or Kosovo, building rule of law after military conflict cannot be done on the cheap. This complex, critical task demands not just resources and planning, but vision and imagination. This important, readable volume offers these elements, as three talented and experienced international lawyers build on hundreds of interviews to design a synergistic, systemic framework for creating rule of law cultures in post-conflict societies."
    --Harold Hongju Koh, Dean of Yale Law School and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 1998-2001

    "This study includes a number of well written and highly informative chapters on the core issues surrounding implementing the rule of law in post-conflict societies. [...]One comes away from this volume understanding both the incredible challenges and complexities that face efforts to establish the rule of law in post-military conflict situations, but also a sense of empowerment due to the analytic tools that the authors provide the reader. [...]Can Might Make Rights?" represents a major contribution to codifying, in a sophisticated and compelling manner, the multiple dimensions and complexities facing rule of law efforts in post-conflict societies."
    --Eric Davis, Rutgers University, Perspectives on Politics

    "Finally: a practical guide for the rule of law development practitioner. After a baptism by frustration as a rule of law planner in Iraq, it became clear that a systemic and holistic approach with realistic expectations was required for any genuine and sustainable progress. For military planners, fighting a conventional war is easy when compared to a protracted counterinsurgency. This book, rather than claiming to have all the answers, urges the reader to ask the right questions. The authors guide the planner to a reasoned and measured approach to rule of law in a conflict zone, while pointing out that true successes are rare. Most importantly, the book correctly points out that there are no short cuts. Rule of law development requires patient, dedicated (and well funded) support to develop a culture of lawfulness. I wish this book had been available BEFORE my deployment."
    --Major Paul F. Meagher, Rule of Law Officer, 4th Civil Affairs Group, U.S. Marine Corps

    "...Can Might Make Rights, a project of the American Society of International Law, is the latest of several recent texts seeking to draw lessons out of the international community’s involvement in reconstruction efforts and is notable for its focus on such efforts as they have taken place, and are currently taking place, in the specific context of post-intervention environments...Can Might Make Rights should become part of the personal professional library of any individual involved in the planning and execution of or support to reconstruction optimistic book, albeit also a realistic one...succeeds in being a very valuable addition to the ongoing conversation. It is a conversation that will continue by necessity, and will, one hopes, include practitioner’s handbooks that continue an interdisciplinary, interagency, and multinational approach even as they write for their specific audiences...In Can Might Make Rights, these scholars do an excellent job advancing the dialogue.
    --CDR R. James Orr, JAGC, USN, Deputy Legal Advisor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Headquarters, Supreme Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, International Judicial Monitor

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521678018
    • length: 426 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 155 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The new imperialism?
    2. Interventions and international law: the impact of legality and legitimacy on building the rule of law
    3. The elusive rule of law
    4. Blueprints for post-conflict governance and their impact on the rule of law
    5. Security as sine qua non
    6. The challenge of long-term justice reform
    7. Moving forward by looking backward? Accountability for atrocities and strengthening the rule of law
    8. Creating rule of law cultures
    9. Strengthening efforts to lay the groundwork for the rule of law: institutions and resources
    10. Conclusion.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Introduction to Public International Law
    • Post Conflict Politics
  • Authors

    Jane Stromseth, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    Jane Stromseth is Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center where she teaches in the fields of international law and constitutional law. She has written widely on international law governing the use of force, humanitarian intervention, accountability for human rights atrocities, and constitutional war powers. She is editor and contributor to Accountability for Atrocities: National and International Responses (2003), contributor to Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas (Cambridge University Press, 2003), contributor to Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts (1993), contributor to The US Constitution and the Power to Go to War (1994), and author of The Origins of Flexible Response: NATO's Debate over Strategy in the 1960s (1988). She has published in law journals including the American Journal of International Law, the Yale Law Journal, and the Georgetown Law Journal, and she has appeared on CNN, NBC, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio. She has served in government as a Director for Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs at the National Security Council (1999–2000), and as an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the US Department of State (1989–90). A Rhodes Scholar, Stromseth holds a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University, a law degree from Yale Law School, and a BA degree from Swarthmore College. She serves on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of International Law.

    David Wippman, Cornell University, New York
    Rosa Brooks is a Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a consultant for the Human Rights Watch and for the President's Office at the Open Society Institute. She was on the Board of Directors for Amnesty International USA from 2002–3 and a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government from 2000–1. She also worked for the US Department of State as a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Brooks is a weekly columnist for The Los Angeles Times. She has written articles for The Washington Post and Harpers and published in scholarly journals such as The University of Chicago Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Georgetown Law Review and The Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.

    Rosa Brooks, University of Virginia
    David Wippman is Vice Provost for International Relations, Cornell University, and Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He previously served as: Partner in Reichler and Appelbaum, a firm specializing in the representation of developing countries, 1984–92; as a Director in the office of Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs, National Security Council, 1998–9; visiting scholar, University of Ulster, 2000–3; associate dean, Cornell Law School, 2004. Wippman is co-author of International Law: Norms, Actors, Process (2002, with Steve Ratner and Jeff Dunoff); co-editor and contributor, New Wars, New Laws? Applying the Laws of War in 21st Century Conflicts (2005).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.