Book

In the shadow of international law (2020)

secrecy and regime change in the postwar world

in: Oxford scholarship online

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Abstract

This book investigates one of the most controversial forms of secret statecraft in international politics: the use of covert action to overthrow foreign regimes. The central question it asks is why leaders sometimes turn to the so-called quiet option when conducting regime change rather than using overt means. Whereas existing works prioritize the desire to control escalation or avoid domestic-political constraints to explain this variation, this book highlights the surprising role that international law plays in these decisions. When states cannot locate a legal exemption from the nonintervention principle-the prohibition on unwanted violations of another state's sovereignty, codified in the United Nations Charter and elsewhere - they are more likely to opt for covert action.