Byers, Michael 1966–

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Byers, Michael 1966–

PERSONAL: Born 1966. Education: University of Saskatchewan, B.A., 1988; McGill University, LL.B. and B.C.L., 1992; Queens' College, Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1996.

ADDRESSES: Office—Liu Institute for Global Issues, The University of British Columbia, 6476 N.W. Marine Dr., Vancouver BC V6T 1Z2, Canada. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Writer, educator, attorney, editor, and legal consultant. Jesus College, Oxford University, research fellow, 1996–99; Duke University School of Law, associate professor, 1999–2003, professor of law, 2003–04; University of British Columbia and Liu Institute for Global Studies, University of British Columbia, 2004–. Duke University, codirector, JD/LL.M program in International and Comparative Law and director, Center for Canadian Studies. Visiting Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Law and International Law, 1996–99; Peter North Visiting Fellow, Keble College & Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford University, 2001–02; Visiting scholar, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, 2003; Commerzbank Visiting Professor, Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany, 2003; visiting professor, Buchmann Faculty of Law, University of Tel Aviv, Israel, 2004; visiting professor, faculty of law, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 2005. Member of executive board, Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security. Frequent guest on television and radio programs on networks such as the BBC, Irish National Radio, CNN, CBC, Radio Australia, National Public Radio, PBS, and MSNBC.


Custom, Power, and the Power of Rules: International Relations and Customary International Law, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor) The Role of Law in International Politics: Essays in International Relations and International Law, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Translator and revisor) Wilhelm G. Grewe, The Epochs of International Law, Walter de Gruyter (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Georg Nolte) United States Hegemony and the Foundations of International Law, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

War Law: Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Contemporary International Law Issues: New Forms, New Applications, edited by Wybo Heere, T.M.C. Asser Institute (The Hague, Netherlands), 1998; Liability of Multinational Corporations under International Law, edited by Menno T. Kamminga and Saman Zia-Zarifi, Kluwer (The Hague, Netherlands), 2000; Worlds in Collision, edited by Ken Booth and Tim Dunne, Palgrave (Basingstoke, England), 2002; and Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas, edited by J.L. Holzgrefe and Robert Keohane, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Ethics & International Affairs, Journal of Political Philosophy, European Journal of International Law, Guardian (London, England), McGill Law Journal, World Today, Independent on Sunday, European Human Rights Law Review, Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, Nordic Journal of International Law, Michigan Journal of International Law, London Review of Books, and Times (London, England).

SIDELIGHTS: Author, educator, and attorney Michael Byers is an expert in international law and related legal subjects. He is a frequent public speaker and presenter at seminars. A tenured professor of law at Duke University, Byers is a frequent contributor to journals and other periodicals, covering topics related to public policy, international law, and the application of law during wartime.

Byers is coeditor, with Georg Nolte, of United States Hegemony and the Foundations of International Law. The book contains eighteen essays by twelve scholars from around the world. The editors and contributors examine the more aggressive role in international affairs that the United States has taken since the September 11 terrorist attacks. More specifically, they carefully consider whether the expanded international presence and predominance of the United States is leading to fundamental changes in international law. The volume addresses how and why America is taking a larger role in the development of international law. Essayists cover topics related to areas such as sovereign equality, laws governing force, the law of treaties, and compliance with international law. A critic in Contemporary Review noted that the book's "range of topics is impressive and the collection will prove invaluable to students of international law and relations."

In War Law: Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict, Byers explores in depth the complex, often arcane area of international laws governing war and armed conflict. Byers delves into how that law applies to the United States and other countries, and how the U.S. tends to declare itself in compliance with relevant war law even when other countries believe America's actions are a violation. The author looks at the history and development of war law as it applies in five important categories: self defense, preemptive war, UN Security Council authorizations, humanitarian and pro-democratic intervention, and the protection of civilians and combatants during armed conflict. He explains the subtleties of arguments nations have used to justify their actions under international war law, and how such arguments and actions often coincide with a country's individual agenda rather than adherence to the letter of the law. Byers also looks at what seem to be contradictions in war law—for example, how Slobodan Milosevic can face an international tribunal to answer for war crimes, but how other leaders, such as Ariel Sharon or even Henry Kissinger, have not been tried for the same type of crime. In his final chapter, Byers looks at recent developments in American foreign policy and concludes that the United States consistently places its interests above international law. The book is "succinct, highly readable, and important," commented Brendan Driscoll in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called War Law a "lucid primer" and "a thoughtful introduction to a complex, often baffling subject."



Booklist, November 15, 2005, Brendan Driscoll, review of War Law: Understanding International Law and Armed Conflict, p. 8.

Contemporary Review, November, 2003, review of United States Hegemony and the Foundations of International Law, p. 317.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2005, review of War Law, p. 1168.

Publishers Weekly, October 17, 2005, review of War Law, p. 53.


Duke University School of Law Web site, (February 27, 2006), biography of Michael Byers.

Liu Institute for Global Studies, University of British Columbia Web site, (February 27, 2006), biography of Michael Byers.