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Author(s): Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Review by: Kristian Skrede Gleditsch
Source: Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 46, No. 5 (september 2009), pp. 728-729
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
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Accessed: 16-07-2016 20:07 UTC

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728 journal of PEACE RESEARCH volume 461 number 51 September 2009
dependent on international aid. Uvin uses col in international efforts to establish new legal
loquial language and sophisticatedly mixes the instruments on the arms trade.
presentation of views from below with historical Hilde Wallacher
interludes. The book portrays a multifaceted pic
ture of the post-conflict situation in Burundi and
Ziliak, Stephen T. 6c Deirdre N. McCloskey,
is a highly recommendable read for scholars inter
2008. The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the
ested in local perceptions of conflict and peace,
Standard Error Costs Us fobs, Justice, and Lives.
and for the international donor community and
aid workers operating in Burundi and other post Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press,
conflict societies. xviii + 321 pp. ISBN 9780472050079.
Ashild Falch
This book has a simple, yet important message:
statistical significance is not the same as substan
Yihdego, Zeray, 2007. The Arms Trade and tive significance, and researchers should consider
International Law. Oxford: Hart, xxi + 357 pp. effect sizes. Findings that are statistically signifi
ISBN 9781841137469. cant may imply trivial effects, while some results
dismissed as statistically insignificant may have
Zeray Yihdego has written an important and important substantive importance, especially if
timely book that has the potential to influ the power of the test to reject an incorrect null
ence important international processes in the hypothesis is low. These may seem like basic
immediate future. Situating arms trade regula points (indeed, all were raised in my first statis
tions within the existing body of international tics textbook). However, the authors demonstrate
law has proved challenging, hampering ongoing that they are typically ignored in practice, and
efforts to establish new international legislation their surveys of articles in the American Economic
on arms transfers. Yihdego's book is thorough Review reveal that 70% focus primarily on statisti
and informative as he provides a substantial chap cal significance. Many of the same tendencies can
ter of definitions and contextualization of small certainly be found in political science and conflict
arms and light weapons and the issues pertain research. The overemphasis on significance is not
ing to these weapons. The book guides the reader merely a matter of academic presentation but has
through the legal and political challenges related real practical costs. Notable benefits and excess
to arms manufacturing, existing prohibitions on mortality of drugs may be undetected when stud
transfers, the special challenges related to transfers ies lack power, and the authors cite an example
to non-state actors, UN Security Council Embar where excess black teenage unemployment rates
goes, and the contentious issues of the relation of 30-40% were not reported because p > 0.10.
ship between arms transfers and humanitarian Large but insignificant estimated effects should
and human rights law. The reader is introduced lead us to re-evaluate the power of a study and
to the legal frameworks relevant for the interna think about ways that we can improve it. This
tional arms trade in an informative manner, as is an insightful and important book that deserves
Yihdego goes through the majority of relevant a wide audience. However, the authors' style is
legal and quasi-legal documents and regimes. often so colourful that it detracts from the mes
The book is comprehensive in scope and involves sage. Moreover, their historical focus on the
in-depth analyses of the legal texts as well as con rise of the 'Cult of Significance', with Fisher as
testing interpretations thereof. Yihdego makes a the chief villain and Gossett (better known as
concerted effort at clarifying the central problem Student) as a forgotten champion of economic
in the relationship between arms trade and inter importance, comes at the expense of what we can
national law, namely, the difficulties associated do to improve practice.
with the scope of application of existing interna Kristian Skrede Gleditsch
tional legal principles. The final chapter listing the
author's findings and recommendations is a use
ful and condensed recapitulation of the preceding
discussions. Unfortunately, the book is somewhat Authors of Book Notes in this issue:
marred by typographical errors, warped sentence
structures and other cosmetic errors which ham Victor Asal- SUNY Albany
Ashild Falch - PRIO
per its readability, though hopefully this will not
stop it from being widely read by those engaged Kristian Skrede Gleditsch ? University of Essex

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Book Notes 729

Lars Seland Gomsrud - PRIO Andrea Ruggeri ? University of Essex

Birger Heldt - Folke Bernadotte Academy Anita Schjolset - PRIO
Kristian Hoelscher - PRIO Farrid Shamsuddin - PRIO
Cindy Horst-PRIO Vasundhara Sirnate ? University of California,
David Isenberg - PRIO Berkeley
Jorgen Jensehaugen - PRIO Henrik Syse - PRIO
Sonja Kittelsen - PRIO HildeWallacher-PRIO
Erlend Paasche - PRIO Christa Waters-PRIO

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