book review

Review of Nigel D. White, The Cuban Embargo under International Law: El Bloqueo, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2015, 208 pp, hb £95.00, pb £34.99.

Therese O'Donnell


The focus of Professor White’s timely book The Cuban Embargo under International Law: El Bloqueo is the unilaterally imposed US embargo on Cuba. In it he offers a thorough analysis of El Bloqueo and its effects, and the resulting compatibility or otherwise with international law. However, as the author makes clear, this is less a study of the embargo in its own terms than a broad analysis of what the embargo reveals about international law. Although illuminating, it is not always a pretty story. The book highlights how international law operated to enable and facilitate a problematic sanctions programme. Despite White’s even-handed treatment of the subject matter, there remains a strong impression that the US sanctions programme reflected the power imbalances which ebb and flow in international law and in this case embodied the punishment of an ingrate territory. The book certainly prompts us to re-think issues of self-help and self-defence in international law and how their invocation can often be ironically self-destructive. White’s exposition of the law of countermeasures is extremely helpful and it does appear that there is no better context for its illustration than the sixty years of US practice towards Cuba.

Published March 2017
Frequency Bi-Monthly
Volume 80
Issue 2
Print ISSN 0026-7961
Online ISSN 1468-2330