ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

woensdag 20 juni 2018

ADVANCE ARTICLES: Leiden Journal of International Law, June 2018

(image source: Cambridge Core)

The Leiden Journal of International Law published advance articles with a historical subject.

Empire, Racial Capitalism and International Law: The Case of Manumitted Haiti and the Recognition Debt (Liliana Obregón)

Before 1492, European feudal practices racialized subjects in order to dispossess, enslave and colonize them. Enslavement of different peoples was a centuries old custom authorized by the law of nations and fundamental to the economies of empire. Manumission, though exceptional, helped to sustain slavery because it created an expectation of freedom, despite the fact that the freed received punitive consequences. In the sixteenth century, as European empires searched for cheaper and more abundant sources of labour with which to exploit their colonies, the Atlantic slave trade grew exponentially as slaves became equated with racialized subjects. This article presents the case of Haiti as an example of continued imperial practices sustained by racial capitalism and the law of nations. In 1789, half a million slaves overthrew their French masters from the colony of Saint Domingue. After decades of defeating recolonization efforts and the loss of almost half their population and resources, Haitian leaders believed their declared independence of 1804 was insufficient, so in 1825 they reluctantly accepted recognition by France while being forced to pay an onerous indemnity debt. Though Haiti was manumitted through the promise of a debt payment, at the same time the new state was re-enslaved as France's commercial colony. The indemnity debt had consequences for Haiti well into the current century, as today Haiti is one of the poorest and most dependent nations in the world.
The Moving Location of Empire: Indirect Rule, International Law, and the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment (Luis Eslava)

 Between 1935 and 1937, the International Missionary Council conducted the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment. The objective was to produce silent educational films and screen them to ‘native’ people via mobile cinemas in the British territories in East and Central Africa. Embracing the principle of ‘indirect rule’, and its role in training colonial subjects in economic self-sufficiency and political self-rule, as then advocated by leading colonial figures and the League of Nations, the films strived to capture ‘the native point of view’ through an ‘ethnographic sensitivity’ towards local cultures, concerns and needs. Hoping to educate the natives from ‘within’, they used local actors, familiar locations and pedagogical instructions that were believed to meet the target audience's cognitive capacity. Though in many respects unsuccessful, the experiment cemented the use of cinema in the late colonial project and, more importantly, embodied the clear move at the time towards a more dynamic and disaggregated, yet perhaps never fully post-imperial, international order. I argue in this article that the Bantu Experiment is thus a telling instance through which to examine both the mobility and multiplicity of late imperial locations and the system of modern international administration that emerged during the interwar period. I suggest that this mobility and multiplicity continue to characterize the workings of today's international order, indicating the key role that ‘indirect rule’, as a silent principle of international law, still plays in its functioning today.
The Birth of an Imperial Location: Comparative Perspectives on Western Colonialism in China (Luigi Nuzzo)

The thematic horizon within which this article takes place is the colonial expansion of the Western powers in China between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Focusing on the foundation of the British, French and American concessions in Tianjin, it aims to reconstruct the Western strategies of colonial governance and the role played by law in the process of production of a new social space. Opened as a treaty port in 1860, Tianjin is the only Chinese city where up to nine foreign concessions coexisted, becoming a complex, hybrid space (in)between East and West, defined by social practices, symbolic representations, and legal categories, which does not coincide simply with the area defined by the entity as a state, nation, or city.
Aliens in Latin America: Intervention, Arbitration and State Responsibility for Rebels (Kahtryn Greeman)

Over the course of the nineteenth century, the question of state responsibility for injuries done by rebels to foreign nationals, or ‘aliens’, in its territory became an important one for international law. Initially, it was common for disputes regarding such responsibility to be resolved through diplomacy, backed up, not infrequently, by the threat and even the use of force. Later it became a matter which also led increasingly to arbitration; beginning around the middle of the nineteenth century a growing number of arbitral tribunals dealt with claims against states for injuries done to aliens by rebels. From the first, established in 1839, there followed a series of 40 mixed claims commissions which touched on state responsibility for rebels. Nearly three-quarters of these arbitrations involved a Western state against one of the new Latin American republics. In this article, I explore how intervention in Latin America, and particularly its turn to arbitration, produced the highly-contested doctrine of state responsibility for rebels. Reading this history in the context of decolonization, capitalist expansion and economic imperialism in Latin America, I argue that the doctrine of state responsibility for rebels was produced out of and used to manage the transition from old colonialism to new imperialism in the region so as to guarantee foreign trade and investment. Understanding this history, I argue, helps us to put back together the pieces of alien protection which fragmented after 1945 and illuminates how international law continues to protect foreign investment against rebels in the decolonized world.
British War Crimes Trials in Europe and Asia, 1945–1949: A Comparative Study (W.L. Cheah & Moritz Vormbaum)

 Between 1945 and 1949, the British military conducted a large number of war crimes trials in Europe and Asia. Based on historical archival records, among other sources, this article evaluates and compares the British authorities’ implementation of the 1945 Royal Warrant and war crimes trials in Europe and Asia, with a specific focus on trials organized in Germany and Singapore. By examining the British war crimes trial experience in those two jurisdictions, the article analyzes factors shaping the evolution of the Royal Warrant's legal framework and trial model in different contexts. It therefore contributes to the growing historical work on post-Second World War trials and current debates among scholars of transitional justice and international criminal law on the contextual factors that impact on war crimes trials.

 (source: Cambridge Core)

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