ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

zaterdag 15 oktober 2016

CONFERENCE: International Law in the Long Nineteenth Century (c. 1775-1920) (Leuven: KULeuven, 24-25 Nov 2016)

(Mgr Sencie Institute; image source: Screenflanders)

The University of Leuven (R. Lesaffer, I. Van Hulle) organizes a conference on International Law in the Long Nineteenth Century  on 24 and 25 November 2016.

On the conference:
Recent historiography on public international law of the long nineteenth century consists of several storylines. For a long time, there was a strong emphasis on the period after 1870, which was regarded as a precursor to the formation of a truly global international law. Thus the nineteenth century was presented as the era in which international law as a discipline finally came to fruition through the creation of specialized chairs, professional societies, modern journals and academic contributions. International jurists embraced new scientific theories such as economic liberalism and positivism and said goodbye to the natural law as an interpretative paradigm. In addition, significant progress was made in the area of human rights, international humanitarian law, arbitration and the conclusion of multilateral treaties. However, in contrast to these nobles aspirations, recent literature on international law has also indicated the strong ties to imperialism. Recent research has taken important steps towards investigating the development of international law in the period before 1870, for example, by highlighting its contribution to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, the impact of political economy, the role of the Holy Alliance and the growth of international maritime law and warfare. 
This conference aims to encourage critical reflections on traditional historiographical themes, methods and sources used to study nineteenth-century international law. As such, they will provide new research topics such as, for example, the role of big versus small states in shaping international legal doctrine, the contributions of Western and non-Western jurists for the development of international law, the continuities and differences in relation to earlier and later periods, the legacy of the Napoleonic era, indigenous forms of international law, regional systems of international law, etc.
Day 1:
Day 1, 24 November 2016
12:30 Registration - coffee, tea
12:45 Welcome by the Dean B. Tilleman
12:55 Welcome by Randall Lesaffer
13:00-14:30 First panel: The Eighteenth-Century Fall-Out on Nineteenth-Century International Law
13:00-13:20 James Crawford, Napoleon – A Small Issue of Status
13:20-13:40 Camilla Boisen, Subjecting International Relations to the Law of Nature: A Neglected Aspect of the Early Modern Jurists and Edmund Burke
13:40-14:00 Raymond Kubben, The Nineteenth-Century Origin of Conceptual Comfort on ‘Statehood
(30 minutes question time - followed by coffee break)
15:00-16:30 Second panel: Neutrality
15:00-15:20 Frederik Dhondt, Permanent neutrality or permanent insecurity? Obligation and self-interest in the defense of Belgian neutrality
15:20-15:40 Shavana Musa, The Law of Neutrality in the Long Nineteenth Century
15:40-16:00 Viktorija Jakimovska: Uneasy Neutrality: Great Britain and the Greek War of Independence
(30 minutes question time followed by coffee break)
17:00-18:00 Third panel: Historiography of Nineteenth-Century International Law
17:00-17:20 Miloš Vec, Which Narratives for Which Histories? The Contested Story of 19th Century International Law
17:20-17:40 Jan Lemnitzer, Economic globalisation and mid-19th Century expansion of International law 

Day 2:
09:00-09:30 Registration - coffee, tea
09:30-11:00 First panel: Professionalization and International Law 09:30-09:50 Stephen Neff, The Science of Man: Anthropology and International Law in the Nineteenth Century
09:50-10:10 Vincent Genin, Institut de droit International’s Crisis (1873-1899)
10:10-10 30 Ana Delic, Formative Interactions of Comparative Law and Private International Law (1820s to 1900s)
(30 minutes question time - followed by coffee break)
11:30-13:00 Second Panel: Empire and the Periphery in the Nineteenth Century 11:30-11:50 Andrew Fitzmaurice, ‘Equality in the Law of Nations
11:50-12:10 Stefan Kroll, Public-Private Colonialism: Political Authority and Judicial Decision-Making in the Shanghai International Settlement
12:10-12:30 Anne-Charlotte Martineau, Revisiting the Abolition of Slavery in the Long 19th Century (30 minutes question time - followed by lunch)
14:00-15:30 Third Panel: Individuals and International Law
14:00-14:20 Gabriela Frei, A Nation should be judged by its Laws” – Sir William Jones and the Translation of Hindu and Islamic Laws in Bengal (1788-1794)
14:20-14:40 Raphael Cahen, The Mahmoud ben Ayed case and the transformation of international law
14:40-15:00 Inge Van Hulle, British Imperial International Law in Africa and its Agents
(30 minutes question time and concluding remarks)
15:45 Closing Reception

Venue: Mgr. Sencie Instituut, Erasmusplein 2, 3000 Leuven (room MSI 1 03.12)

More information and registration here.

maandag 10 oktober 2016

BOOK: Mieke VAN DER LINDEN, The Acquisition of Africa (1870-1914). The Nature of International Law [Studies in the History of International Law, 8, ed. Randall LESAFFER; Legal History Library, 20]. Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff/Brill, 2016, ISBN 9789004321199, € 129.

(image source: Brill)

Mieke Van der Linden (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg) published an updated version of her doctoral dissertation (defended at Tilburg University, under the direction of R. Lesaffer, 2014) under the title The Acquisition of Africa (1870-1914). The Nature of International Law.

Book description:
Over recent decades, the responsibility for the past actions of the European colonial powers in relation to their former colonies has been subject to a lively debate. In this book, the question of the responsibility under international law of former colonial States is addressed. Such a legal responsibility would presuppose the violation of the international law that was applicable at the time of colonization. In the ‘Scramble for Africa’ during the Age of New Imperialism (1870-1914), European States and non-State actors mainly used cession and protectorate treaties to acquire territorial sovereignty (imperium) and property rights over land (dominium). The question is raised whether Europeans did or did not on a systematic scale breach these treaties in the context of the acquisition of territory and the expansion of empire, mainly through extending sovereignty rights and, subsequently, intervening in the internal affairs of African political entities.
 On the author:
Mieke van der Linden, Ph.D (2014), is senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. She has published a dissertation, book chapters and articles on the legacy of Africa’s colonization in international law, including ‘The Inextricable Connection between Historical Consciousness and International Law: New Imperialism, the International Court of Justice and its Interpretation of the Inter-temporal Rule’ (in: C. Binder et al., 2014 ESIL Conference Proceedings, vol. 5. Oxford: forthcoming) and ‘The Euro-Centric Nature of International Law, A Legacy from New Imperialism’ (in: D. De ruysscher et al (eds.), Legal History, Moving in New Directions. Antwerp: 2015, pp. 413-427).
Table of contents:
 1. New Imperialism: Imperium, Dominium and Responsibility under International Law
 2. Dominium
 3. Imperium
 4. Territorium et Titulus
 5. British Nigeria
 6. French Equatorial Africa
 7. German Cameroon
 8. Ex facto ius oritur?
 9. A Reflection on the Nature of International Law: Redressing the Illegality of Africa’s Colonization
 10. Evaluative summary and conclusion
 Chronological list of treaties and other agreements
More information on Brill's website.

donderdag 29 september 2016

AJIL Unbound Symposium: The Many Lives of the Sykes-Picot Treaty

(image source: AJIL Unbound)

The blog of the American Journal of International Law hosts an online-symposium on the Sykes-Picot Treaty, a landmark in the history of the Middle East with far-reaching consequences.

The introduction by Prof. Anthonie Anghie can be found here. Two contributions have already been published: "Palestine and the Secret Treaties" by dr. Victor Kattan (here) and "Textual Settlements: The Sykes–Picot Agreement and Secret Treaty-Making" by Megan Donaldson (here).

zondag 25 september 2016

BOOK: Lauren BENTON & Lisa FORD, Rage for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard UP, 2016, 288 p., ISBN 9780674737464, € 36

  (image source: Harvard UP)

The Legal History Blog announced a forthcoming book by Lauren Benton & Lisa Ford, RAge for Order: The British Empire and the Origins of International Law, 1800-1850, at Harvard University Press. The book is available at a democratic price (€ 36).

Book description:
International law burst on the scene as a new field in the late nineteenth century. Where did it come from? Rage for Order finds the origins of international law in empires—especially in the British Empire’s sprawling efforts to refashion the imperial constitution and use it to order the world in the early part of that century.
Lauren Benton and Lisa Ford uncover the lost history of Britain’s global empire of law in colonial conflicts and bureaucratic dispatches rather than legal treatises and case law. Tracing constitutional politics around the world, Rage for Order shows that attempts to refashion the British imperial constitution touched on all the controversial issues of the day, from slavery to revolution. Scandals in turbulent colonies targeted petty despots and augmented the power of the Crown to intervene in the administration of justice. Campaigns to police piracy and slave trading linked British interests to the stability of politically fragmented regions. Dull bureaucrats dominated legal reform, but they did not act in isolation. Indigenous peoples, slaves, convicts, merchants, and sailors all scrambled to play a part in reordering the empire and the world beyond it. Yet, through it all, legal reform focused on promoting order, not advancing human rights or charting liberalism.
Rage for Order maps a formative phase in world history when imperial, not international, law anchored visions of global order. This sweeping story changes the way we think about the legacy of the British Empire and the meaning of international law today.

 On the authors:
Lauren Benton is Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr., Professor of History and Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University.
Lisa Ford is Associate Professor in History at the University of New South Wales.
This book is a major achievement. Benton and Ford provide a powerful new way of understanding the global reach and effects of modern British imperialism. By connecting projects of colonial governance with new visions of global legal ordering, they offer a bold rethinking of the imperial context for the emergence of modern international law.—Robert Travers, Cornell University
The authors go deep into the archives to reveal the crucial interactions of countless colonial governors, crusading ship captains, misguided magistrates, inquisitive imperial commissioners, and frustrated Westminster bureaucrats whose words and deeds collectively constituted a nascent global legal order. By telling the often marvelous stories of law’s minions rather than its mandarins, Benton and Ford have done nothing less than help us understand the shambling character of our own international legal order as it arose out of empire two centuries ago.—Paul D. Halliday, University of Virginia
Benton and Ford marshal a vast array of archival evidence to shed new light on the development of law within and at the edges of the British Empire. They show that political and military activities were saturated with legal claims and that many and often competing actors—merchants and missionaries, sailors and convicts, middling officials and local elites—contributed to a ‘new vernacular imperial constitutionalism,’ with profound and unexpected consequences for international law.—Jennifer Pitts, University of Chicago

Table of contents:
1. A Global Empire of Law
2. Controlling Despotic Dominions
3. The Commissioner’s World
4. The Promise of Protection
5. Ordering the Oceans
6. An Empire of States
7. A Great Disorder

vrijdag 16 september 2016

BOOK: Martti KOSKENNIEMI, Walter RECH & Manuel JIMÉNEZ FONSECA (eds.), International Law and Empire: Historical Explorations [The History and Theory of International Law]. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Dec 2016, 416p. ISBN 978-0198795575, £ 80.

(image source: amazon)

Oxford University Press will publish a volume on 1 December 2016 on the theme International Law and Empire: Historical Explorations. This is a product of the project "International Law, Religion and Empire" under the direction of Martti Koskenniemi at the Eric Castrén Institute (Helsinki).

Book description:
In times in which global governance in its various forms, such as human rights, international trade law, and development projects, is increasingly promoted by transnational economic actors and international institutions that seem to be detached from democratic processes of legitimation, the question of the relationship between international law and empire is as topical as ever. By examining this relationship in historical contexts from early modernity to the present, this volume aims to deepen current understandings of the way international legal institutions, practices, and narratives have shaped specifically imperial ideas about and structures of world governance. As it explores fundamental ways in which international legal discourses have operated in colonial as well as European contexts, the book enters a heated debate on the involvement of the modern law of nations in imperial projects. Each of the chapters contributes to this emerging body of scholarship by drawing out the complexity and ambivalence of the relationship between international law and empire. They expand on the critique of western imperialism while acknowledging the nuances and ambiguities of international legal discourse and, in some cases, the possibility of counter-hegemonic claims being articulated through the language of international law. Importantly, as the book suggests that international legal argument may sometimes be used to counter imperial enterprises, it maintains that international law can barely escape the Eurocentric framework within which the progressive aspirations of internationalism were conceived.

Table of contents:
Introduction, Martti Koskenniemi
Part I: Epistemologies of Empire and International Law 1: Provincializing Grotius: International Law and Empire in a Seventeenth-Century Malay Mirror, Arthur Weststeijn
2: Indirect Hegemonies in International Legal Relations: The Debate of Religious Tolerance in Early Republican China, Stefan Kroll
3: International Law, Empire, and the Relative Indeterminacy of Narrative, Walter Rech
Part II: Legal Discourses of Empire 4: The Concepts of Universal Monarchy and Balance of Power in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century-a Case Study, Peter Schröder
5: Between Faith and Empire: The Justification of the Spanish Intervention in the French Wars of Religion in the 1590s, Randall Lesaffer
6: Jus gentium and the Transformation of Latin American Nature: One More Reading of Vitoria?, Manuel Jiménez Fonseca
7: Cerberus: The State, the Empire, and the Company as Subjects of International Law in Grotius and the Peace of Westphalia, José-Manuel Barreto
8: Revolution, Empire, and Utopia: Tocqueville and the Intellectual Background of International Law, Julie Saada
Part III: Managing Empire: Imperial Administration and Diplomacy 9: Towards the Empire of a 'Civilizing Nation': The French Revolution and its Impact on Relations with the Ottoman Regencies in the Maghreb, Christian Windler
10: A Comporting Sovereign, Tribes, and the Ordering of Imperial Authority in Colonial Upper Canada of the 1830s, PG McHugh
11: Territory, Sovereignty, and the Construction of the Colonial Space, Luigi Nuzzo
Part IV: A Legal Critique of Empire? 12: An Anti-Imperialist Universalism? Jus Cogens and the Politics of International Law, Umut Özsu
13: Drift towards an Empire? The Trajectory of American Reformers in the Cold War, Hatsue Shinohara
14: Imperium sine fine: Carneades, the Splendid Vice of Glory, and the Justice of Empire, Benjamin Straumann
15: Scepticism of the Civilizing Mission in International Law, Andrew Fitzmaurice 

On the editors:
Martti Koskenniemi is Academy Professor and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki, a Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School, and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has held visiting professorships at New York University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Utrecht, Columbia University, the University of São Paulo, the University of Toronto, and the Universities of Paris I, II, X and XVI. He was a member of the Finnish diplomatic service from 1978 to 1994 and of the International Law Commission (UN) from 2002 to 2006. His publications include From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument (1989), The GentleCivilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960 (2001), The Politics of International Law (2011), and The Cambridge Companion to International Law (2012, co-edited with Professor James Crawford). 
Walter Rech is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. His research interests are located in the history and theory of international law and international politics. His publications include Enemies of Mankind: Vattel's Theory of Collective Security ( 2013). 
Manuel Jiménez Fonseca is a doctoral researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. His research interests include the historical relationship between international law and nature, development, and social movements. His publications include 'The Colonization of American Nature and the Early Developments of International Law' 12 Journal of the History of International Law (2010) 189. 

The book can be pre-ordered with amazon.

zondag 11 september 2016

ESIL IG History of International Law Workshop "Writing Crisis in the History of International Law" (Riga, 7 September 2016)

 (Prof. Peters starting her response to the papers presented)

The Interest Group invited its members (latest ESIL secretariat count: 377) for an engaging and stimulating workshop on the theme "Writing Crisis in the History of International Law" within the Annual ESIL conference, organised in Riga (Latvia). 

Four papers were presented by Monica García Salmones (Helsinki, "Universal Solutions for Exceptional Times: Vitoria and Grotius"), Eric Loefflad (Kent, "‘The Stunted ‘Science’ of Statehood as a Technology of Crisis Disavowal: Three ‘Gentle Civilizers’, The Blindspots of International Institutionalism, and Explanations of the Third Reich’"), Paolo Amarosa (Helsinki; "Diverging Reconstructions: the American international law of Alejandro Álvarez and James Brown Scott during World War I") and Ingo Venzke (Amsterdam; "The Economic Crisis in the 1970s: Possibilities for Change in the Past to Feed the Future"). Prof. Anne Peters (MPI Heidelberg) responded to the proposed texts.

The Interest Groups thanks all participants for a stimulating exchange on topics of doctrine, theory and the life of the law, ranging from 16th century theology to 21st century critical legal studies.

(view from the Latvian National Library, main site of the conference)

We point to the open call for abstracts for the workshop at the upcoming ESIL Research Forum in Granada (30-31 March 2017), which can be found here. We hope to welcome you again in Spain !

donderdag 25 augustus 2016

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: ESIL RESEARCH FORUM, Granada: Workshop "Neutrality in the History of International Law - Myths and Evolving Realities"; DEADLINE 15 DEC 2016

(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

No law is neutral. Law is always a mirror of the value-system and the power structure  underlying  any  given  society  at  any  point  in  time and international law has never been an exception to this rule. A different, and yet related matter, is the extent to which the law applies equally (or not) to all members of any given society, the extent to which these members participate as equals (or not) in the formation of international law and the extent to which the law is effectively (or not) applied in an objective and un-biased manner (what is, commonly known, as 'neutrally') by international bodies and adjudicators charged with applying it to international situations or with settling disputes between any given parties. The aspiration towards 'neutrality'  (as  such  conceived)  of  international  law  in  its  quest  for  an ever-greater  legitimacy,  has, undoubtedly, evolved  throughout  different historical  periods.  

Neutrality  in  the  history  of  international  law can,  on the other hand, also be understood as a legal institution. Neutrality as a legal  institution  was  born  as a  synonym  for  emancipation  from  a  rigorous moral  top-down  juridical-moral  framework  inherited  from  theology. Its theoretical  blossoming  went  in  parallel  with  the  consolidation  of  the principle  of  sovereign  equality  of  nations  and  the  principle  of  non-intervention in domestic affairs during the transition of the classical law of nations to modern international law. Since the establishment of the first international  institutions  with  universal  and  permanent  character, neutrality  as  a  legal  institution  has  continued  to  evolve  against  the background  provided  by  the  ever-shifting  chessboard  of  international relations  and  proliferating  international  institutions. 

Finally,  the relationship of neutrality and the history of international law can be also examined  through  the  lenses  of  the  neutrality  (or  lack  of)  of  history writing itself. If all history is, as B. Croce noted, contemporary history (by which it is generally meant that all history writing is, in one degree or other, done from the perspective of the present and also that all history writing  constitutes  an  intervention  in  the  present)  could  any  historical account  possibly  aspire  to  be  considered  a  'neutral'  history  of international law? And, if so, under what criteria?
The  Interest  Group  of  the  History  of  International  Law  welcomes  abstracts that  engage  critically  with  any  of  these  dimensions  of  neutrality  in  the history  of  international  law  or  a  combination  thereof  in  historical perspective  by  reference  to  relevant  episodes  in  the  history  of international law and/or different historiographical schools.   
Each submission should include:
– An abstract of no more than 400 words, the intended language of presentation,
– A short curriculum vitae containing the author’s  name,  institutional  affiliation,  contact  information  and  e-mail address.
Applications should be submitted to both Ignacio de la Rasilla del Moral (;  and Frederik  Dhondt (   by  15th December  2016.  All  applicants  will  be notified of the outcome of the selection process by 15th January 2017
Selection will be based on scholarly merit and with regard to producing an engaging  workshop,  without  prejudice  to  gender,  seniority,  language  or geographical  location.  Please  note  that  the  ESIL  Interest  Group  on  the History  of  International  Law  is  unable  to  provide  funds  to  cover  the conference registration fee or related transport and accommodation costs.  

More information on the Research Forum (30-31 March 2017) can be found on the website of the European Society of International Law or on the Granada Law School website.