ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

Thursday 26 November 2015

CONFERENCE: Law, Biography, and a Trial: Tokyo’s Transnational Histories (Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg/Universität Heidelberg, 6-7 Dec 2015)

(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The "Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg" and Heidelberg University (JRG: "Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1945-1954"/Excellenzcluster "Asia aand Europa in a Global Context") organize a conference on the "Transnational Histories of the Tokyo Trials".

Registration is open until 5 December 2015.

The lineages of contemporary international law have generally been envisioned in terms of the imposition of western concepts on other parts of the world. As research has shown, war crimes trials after the Second World War, in particular the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg (IMT) and at Tokyo (IMTFE), claimed to be enforcing “justice”, but nevertheless proved to be battlegrounds for intense political and ideological struggle within the new post-war international world order. War crimes trials thus contributed to the development of international criminal law, the formation of transcultural norms of legality and legitimacy, as well as transnationally debated (and contested) notions of “justice.”
This workshop brings together fresh research on the political contexts in which new norms and practices of international criminal law emerged after 1945 in Asia, studying how the Tokyo Tribunal, active between May 1948 and November 1948, operated under the impact of external political and legal pressures, while also evolving new standards and debates that left a global impact beyond Japan. Through a combination of qualitative comparative research, theoretical conceptualization, and policy and cultural analyses, this project - by using the biographical lens on individual actors and interest groups - scrutinizes new modes and techniques of political legitimation and juridicality which emerged in the mid-20th century as a result of transcultural encounters in the crossroads of Europe, USA, USSR, Australia, and East, South-East and South Asia.
While the workshop gives due importance to legal actors who contributed to the formation of the majority judgment, it also puts in the foreground judges who did not throw their lot in with the majority judgment, and emphasizes subversive blocs or coalitions of individuals, thereby including also the defense lawyers in the trial. These various actors produced subterranean transnational networks that sometimes remain invisible in research. This workshop focusses also on the networks constructed through juridical institutions and theatres (not only the trial itself, but also universities, the UNWCC, the International Law Commission) which either had an impact on the trial or were influenced by its legacies.
Sunday, 6 Dec 2015:
Opening of the conference:
Kerstin von LINGEN (Heidelberg U): Introduction: Legal Flows and Travelling Judges at the IMTFE.
19.45 Film Screening (Japan. documentary 'Inside the Tokyo Tribunal', English version, aprox. 60 mins)
Monday, 7 Dec 2015:
10.00 h-10.25: Morning Coffee
Urs Matthias ZACHMANN (Edinburgh U): Loser’s Justice: the Tokyo Trial from the Perspective of the Japanese Legal Community
James Burnham SEDGWICK (Acadia University, Nova Scotia/ Canada): Building Blocs: Communities of Dissent, Manufactured Majorities, and International Judgment in Tokyo
Yuki TAKATORI (Georgia State University, Atlanta): “Justifying the vengeance by a successful belligerent” – Canadian view of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial
11.55 – 12.25
Hitoshi NAGAI (Hiroshima City University): Burdened by the “Shadow of War”: Justice Delfin Jaranilla and the Tokyo Trial
Lunch Break 12.30-14.30
Anja BIHLER (Heidelberg U): Judge Mei Ru’ao and the Chinese delegation at the IMTFE Criminals
Valentyna POLUNINA (Heidelberg U): The Soviets at Tokyo: international justice at the dawn of the Cold War
Ann-Sophie SCHOEPFEL (Heidelberg U): Defending French National Interests or Defending Justice Bernard? The dilemma of Ambassador Zinovy Peshkoff at the Tokyo Trial
16.00–16.20 Afternoon Coffee
Lisette SCHOUTEN (Heidelberg U): In the footsteps of Grotius. The Netherlands and its representation at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 1945-1948.
Kerstin VON LINGEN (Heidelberg U): Judge William Patrick, Prosecutor Arthur Comyns-Carr and British approaches to the IMTFE
David M. CROWE (Elon U, USA): MacArthur, Keenan, and the American Quest for Justice at the IMFTE
Concluding Debate
End of conference 18.30
Kerstin von Lingen
Exzellenzcluster, Vossstr. 2/4400, 69115 Heidelberg

 Source: HSozKult.

Thursday 19 November 2015

BOOK: Willem Theo OOSTERVELD, The Law of Nations in Early American Foreign Policy. Theory and Practice from the Revolution to the Monroe Doctrine [Theory and Practice of Public International Law, ed. V. Chetail] (Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff/Brill, 2015), XIV + 359 p. ISBN 9789004305670

(image source: Brill)

Willem Theo Oosterveld (Hague Centre for Strategic Studies) published The Law of Nations in Early American Foreign Policy in Brill's new series "Theory and Practice of Public International Law" (ed. V. Chetail).


Tuesday 10 November 2015

CALL FOR PAPERS: Workshop for the Istanbul ESIL Research Forum: ‘Beyond the Western Paradigm?: Towards a Global History of International Law’ (Istanbul, 21-22 Apr 2016); DEADLINE 15 JAN 2016

On the occasion of the ESIL Research Forum (Koç University Law School and the Center for Global Public Law in Istanbul, 21-22 April 2016) the ESIL Interest Group on the History of International Law hereby invites submissions, in English or in French, for a Workshop on global approaches to the history of international law. The workshop targets scholars at an early stage of their careers, especially PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

Since its inception the discipline of the history of international law has been approached from the perspective of European states. Teleological visions of history as progress often dominate the discourse of textbooks on international law, making the implicit claim that it was the providence of European states to gradually, from the 15th century onwards, create a universal and ‘globalised’ world order. Attempts have been made to alter this discourse by alternatively highlighting the disruptive aspects of Western international law in the service of European imperialism and by pointing out the criticism offered by non-Western states and scholars against instances of European oppression. In light of these developments recent scholarschip has called for the creation of a ‘global’ history of international law which moves beyond the traditional Eurocentric paradigm and which also awards a voice to indigenous and non-Western histories of international law. This raises questions as to the methodology and the substance of a global history of international law.

In light of these questions, the IGHIL invites submissions from phd researchers and post-doctoral researchers within the fields of international law, history, legal history and politics on topics relating to:
a)      ‘histories’ of international law from a global perspective with an emphasis on the historical state practice and intellectual history of indigenous people and non-Western States relating to international law
b)      the historical relationship and interaction between non-Western and Western international law including stories of participation and confrontation with respect to, for example, human rights, humanitarian international law, international criminal law, etc.
c)      the methodological challenges of a global history of international law, including questions of periodisation, epistemology, narrative, etc.

Each submission should include:
a) An abstract of no more than 400 words;
b) The intended language of presentation;
c) A short curriculum vitae containing the author’s name, institutional affiliation, contact information and e-mail address.

Abstracts must be submitted no later than 15 January 2016 to  Shavana Musa ( or Thomas Skouteris ( on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Interest Group, which shall collectively supervise the peer-review process of the abstracts. Applicants will be notified on the outcome of the selection process by 15 February 2016.

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.