ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

woensdag 6 januari 2021

JOURNAL: Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international XXII (2020), nr. 4

(image source: Brill)

‘A Retrograde Tendency’: The Expropriation of German Property in the Versailles Treaty (Nicholas Mulder)


This article explores how the Versailles Treaty was shaped by the effects of economic warfare 1914–1919. The First World War was in part an Allied economic war waged against the Central Powers in conditions of advanced economic and financial globalization. This was reflected in the treaty’s expropriation mechanisms, which were used to take control of German property, rights, and interests around the world. Whereas Articles 297 and 298 of the treaty legalized wartime seizures, the Reparations Section of the treaty also contained a provision, paragraph 18, that gave the Allies far-reaching confiscatory powers in the future. The article places these mechanisms in a wider political, legal and economic context, and traces how they became a bone of contention among the former belligerents in the interwar period.

The Economic World of the populus Romanus (Amy Russell)


Rome’s transformation from city-state to territorial empire involved a massive increase in wealth; it also both created and responded to fundamental political changes, in a moment often positioned as the creation myth of republicanism. James Tan has modelled the Republican economy as a three-way relationship between aristocrats, the state, and the people. Aristocrats competed with the state for access to the riches of conquest; simultaneously the state’s dependence on citizen taxation declined. This article examines the relationship between state and people as both practical and ideological. The People were sovereign, yet it was the People who increasingly lost their status as economic and political stakeholders even as their empire grew. The complex relationship between the people and the populus (‘the People’ as an institution) had economic as well as political elements, and is central to how we should apply notions of economic sovereignty to Republican Rome 

 Public-Private Concord through Divided Sovereignty: Reframing societas for International Law (Hans Blom & Mark Somos)


Grotius is the father of modern international law. The indivisibility of sovereignty was the sine qua non of early-modern conceptual innovation in law. Both statements are axiomatic in the mainstream literature of the last two centuries. Both are profoundly and interestingly wrong. This article shows that Grotius’ systematisation of public and international law involved defining corporations as potentially (and the VOC actually) integral to reason of state, and able to bear and exercise marks of sovereignty under certain conditions. For Grotius, some corporations were not subsumed under the state’s legal authority, nor were they hybrid ‘company-states’. Instead, states and such corporations, able and forced to cooperate, fell under dovetailing natural, international, and municipal systems of law. The article reexamines Grotius’ notion of international trade, public debt, private corporation, and public and private war through the reassembled prism of these dovetailing laws and the category of societas that underpins Grotian associations. It is argued that although formulated around the new East India trade, the actual reality of legal pluralism was available to Grotius in the Dutch trade experience of the sixteenth century.

Book reviews:

  • From Slaves to Prisoners of War: The Ottoman Empire, Russia, and International Law , written by Will Smiley (Joshua M. White)
  • Origins of the Right of Self-defence in International Law: From the Caroline Incident to the United Nations Charter , written by Tadashi Mori (Federica Paddeu)
  • The Trial of the Kaiser , written by William A. Schabas (David Cohen)

 (source: Brill)