ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

Saturday 23 December 2017

JOURNAL: Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international XIX (2017), Nr. 4 (ISSN 1388-199X)

(image source: Brill)

"Alberico Gentili’s De iure belli: An Absolutist’s Attempt to Reconcile the jus gentium and the Reason of State Tradition" (Claire Vergerio)

"The Socio-Historical Case for the Existence of a Nexus Requirement in the Application of Universal Jurisdiction to Maritime Piracy" (Jeffrey T. Tirshfield)

"From the “Closed” to the “Open” Commercial State: A Very Brief History of International Economic Law" (Robert Schütze)

Book Reviews
"The Politics of Justifying Force: The Suez Crisis, The Iraq War and International Law, Using and Justifying Force: The Suez Crisis, The Iraq War and International Law, written by Charlotte Peevers" (Parvathi Menon)

"To Reform the World. International Organizations and the Making of Modern States, written by Guy Fiti Sinclair" (Madeleine Herren)

(More information here)

Tuesday 19 December 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS: AGORA Proposal, ESIL Conference 2018 (Manchester). Deadline 17 JAN 2018

ESIL's Interest Group "History of International Law" invites submissions for an Agora Proposal to be submitted for consideration for the ESIL Conference 2018. For 2018, Manchester has been chosen as venue, around the theme 'International Law and Universality'

Please find our call below:

The Local in the Universal: Social, Women’s, Labour and Radical Histories of International Law

The Interest Group on the History of International Law seeks abstracts for an Agora Proposal to be submitted to the European Society of International Law for its 2018 Conference on ‘International Law and Universality’ to be held 13–15 September 2018 in Manchester.

Universality’s flip side is the local and the particular. Locations are inescapable parts of any idea of universality. People are positioned in time, place, class, gender, race, ethnicity, indigeneity, and sexuality. These particulars formed familiar coordinates for locating different peoples within ideas of the universal; at the bottom of hierarchies — subsumed, excluded, ignored, erased. 

The beginning of international legal history’s recent renaissance lay in exploring one assertion of universality — the liberal-democratic progressive narrative — and Europe as its location, and white male jurists as its particular. Later advances began to unpack the imperial, racial and class aspects of international law’s pasts, to understand how that universal spread to many localities. Some of the most recent and exciting historical projects have begun to draw our attention to the everyday, to materiality, objects, and archives beyond the legal, to tell personal, hidden and revealing histories of international law. 

And yet, international legal history has so far been largely resistant to more radical forms of history that spurred so many of the main innovations in twentieth century historiography: social histories, women’s histories, labour histories, and histories of resistance and radicalism. Other themes at the 2018 ESIL Conference invite papers on universality and particularism’s histories at the juridical, conceptual and theoretical levels. This Agora seeks to expand that universe in the direction of something more local, personal and radical — to uncover histories that have been hidden within these longues durées and big trends.

Fitting with and interrogating the theme of universality, we seek papers that look for the local in the universal and the legal, from across the globe and from any period of historical inquiry. We are looking to share the hidden stories, archival gems, and accounts of everyday lives and movements that illuminate and contest the universal in new and powerful ways. It is particularly fitting that we do this in Manchester, a city that was one major birthplace of the industrial revolution, the labour movement, and the suffragette movement.

Issues arising within this theme might include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of women and women’s movements in constructing, challenging and critiquing the ideas of universality in international law.
  • Labour and international law: competing universals of solidarity and capitalism.
  • Race, ethnicity, indigeneity, intersectionality and the stories of challenging, rethinking and repurposing the universal.
  • Rebellions, radicalism and resistance: histories of popular debate, protests and discord over universality in law.
  • Shifting the ‘turn to biography’ in international legal histories: introducing the field to new lives and new, untold stories.
  • The significance of rural areas, cities, communities, migration and labour flows for rethinking law, the international, and the universal.

  • Submit an abstract of no more than 800 words, submitted by email to by 17 January 2018. No late submissions will be considered.
  • An interest group subcommittee will then blind review the abstracts and finalise the proposed format. The likely format will be a panel of 4 papers, but this may change depending on abstracts received.
  • Selected abstracts will be sent, with the Agora theme, to the ESIL 2018 Conference organisers for their consideration by 31 January 2018.
  • If the proposal is successful, full papers (minimum 3000 words) will need to be submitted by 15 July 2018 for circulation to other Agora participants.
  • We encourage proposals from scholars in any discipline — legal or not — and at any stage of career. 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 circulate this call to anyone you think may be interested.
  • Please direct any questions to Martin Clark ( or Markus Beham (

Tuesday 12 December 2017

BOOK: Oona A. HATHAWAY and Scott J. SHAPIRO, The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2017), 581 p., ISBN 97815011098671501109863, $30.00

Book Abstract:
A bold and provocative history of the men who fought to outlaw war and how an often overlooked treaty signed in 1928 was among the most transformative events in modern history.
On a hot summer afternoon in 1928, the leaders of the world assembled in Paris to outlaw war. Within the year, the treaty signed that day, known as the Peace Pact, had been ratified by nearly every state in the world. War, for the first time in history, had become illegal the world over. But the promise of that summer day was fleeting. Within a decade of its signing, each state that had gathered in Paris to renounce war was at war. And in the century that followed, the Peace Pact was dismissed as an act of folly and an unmistakable failure. This book argues that that understanding is inaccurate, and that the Peace Pact ushered in a sustained march toward peace that lasts to this day.
The Internationalists tells the story of the Peace Pact by placing it in the long history of international law from the seventeenth century through the present, tracing this rich history through a fascinating and diverse array of lawyers, politicians and intellectuals—Hugo Grotius, Nishi Amane, Salmon Levinson, James Shotwell, Sumner Welles, Carl Schmitt, Hersch Lauterpacht, and Sayyid Qutb. It tells of a centuries-long struggle of ideas over the role of war in a just world order. It details the brutal world of conflict the Peace Pact helped extinguish, and the subsequent era where tariffs and sanctions take the place of tanks and gunships.
The Internationalists examines with renewed appreciation an international system that has outlawed wars of aggression and brought unprecedented stability to the world map. Accessible and gripping, this book will change the way we view the history of the twentieth century—and how we must work together to protect the global order the internationalists fought to make possible.

More information on the book can be found here

(source: ESCLH Blog)

Friday 1 December 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Interest Group Steering Committee (Oct 2018)

(image: newsman announcing rewards for those able to bring back lost French and Spanish ships from the battle of Vigo; source: BnF Gallica, Collection Michel Hennin. Estampes relatives à l'Histoire de France. Tome 76, Pièces 6719-6811, période : 1701-1702; click on the image for more detail)

The members of the ESIL Interest Group History of International Law had the opportunity to apply for the Steering Committee of this organ by 23 October 2017.

As the ESIL secretariat received five applications for five vacancies, no further vote was held, all candidates have been automatically elected. As a brief introduction of the new team, we  present the biographical information provided to the ESIL Secretariat:

Jan Lemnitzer (Assistant Professor, University of Southern Denmark) [New Steering Committee Chairman]

I am Assistant Professor at the Center for War Studies, University of Southern Denmark, and was formerly Director of Studies at Oxford’s Changing Character of War programme. I was employed as a lecturer in modern history at Christ Church and Pembroke College, Oxford, and have published on the history of international law in Diplomacy & Statecraft, the International History Review and the European Journal of International Law. I completed my PhD thesis on the 1856 Declaration of Paris at the London School of Economics, and the book has now been published with Palgrave Macmillan under the title Power, Law and the End of Privateering. The books argues that the 1856 Declaration marks the beginning of the codification of international law, and my current work explores the 19th century expansion of international law more generally, the origins of the norm of civilian immunity and the history of international criminal law. As a historian employed by a political science faculty because of his legal expertise, I am committed to genuine interdisciplinarity, and I have greatly benefitted from the IGHIL workshops I have participated in. Now, I want to give something back and help the group prosper. In particular, I will promote training opportunities for young scholars on how to work with primary and archival sources, and work on the IGHIL goal to make such sources easily available online. For the ‘turn to practice’ to thrive, examples of how state practice shaped and responded to the development of international law must be easy to find!

Markus Beham (Assistant Professor, Universität Passau)
I am an Assistant Professor at the Chair for Constitutional and Administrative Law, Public International Law, European and International Economic Law at the University of Passau, Germany. Prior to this, I taught at the Section for International Law and International Relations of the University of Vienna, Austria, where I also completed my doctoral degree at the Department of Legal Philosophy in co-tutelle with the Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense, and, after completing an LL.M. degree at Columbia Law School and qualifying for the NY Bar, I worked in the arbitration group of an international law firm. Having also studied history with a focus on Eastern European history, where my research interests were the ‘long 19th century’ with the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the history of population exchanges and deportations throughout the 20th century, I feel that I can substantively contribute to the work of the Coordination Committee. Having now been a member of ESIL and the Interest Group for two years, I would appreciate the opportunity to take on responsibility and volunteer as a member of the committee to assist in its day-to-day administrative tasks as well as by providing substantive input. My personal feeling is that international lawyers working on legal history, legal historians, and historians still lead parallel and unconnected lives. This is, for sure, the experience in the Germanophone academic world. I would like to see part of the agenda of the interest group in connecting these different actors through common efforts and events.

Martin Clark (PhD candidate, London School of Economics)
My name is Martin Clark and I am eager to become part of the IGHIL's coordinating committee. I am a PhD Candidate and Judge Rosalyn Higgins Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science: My work currently focuses on conceptual histories in international and public law, and I am particularly interested in shifting our field to better engagements with historical theory and historians generally. I have been closely involved in the IGHIL, presenting papers at Naples 2017 and Istanbul 2016. I very much support the present purposes and aspirations of the IGHIL. But like many involved in the Group, I would like to see us push the boundaries of international legal history more firmly and radically, to move in a range of new directions and beyond the debates that risk becoming too-well rehearsed. Some future research agendas for the IGHIL should, I think, include histories of international law from below; rethinking the materials of international legal history; and a stronger reassertion of feminist histories of international law. One practical contribution I feel I could make is building further the Group’s blog into a platform for short analysis or comment pieces, research notes, bibliographies, and digitised primary documents, in addition to the extremely useful scholarship and call for paper posts published at present. I realise I am quite young to be seeking to be part of the Committee -- nonetheless, I hope that what I lack in experience I can more than make up for in enthusiasm.

Frederik Dhondt (Assistant Professor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel/Guest Professor, University of Antwerp)

Frederik Dhondt (1984) is assistant professor at the Vrije University Brussel and guest professor at the University of Antwerp. He studied law (Ghent, 2007), history (Ghent/Paris-Sorbonne, 2008) and international relations (Sciences Po Paris 2009). He obtained his PhD in law in 2013 (Ghent University, commercial version published as Balance of Power and Norm Hierarchy. Franco-British Diplomacy after the Peace of Utrecht (Brill, 2015)). Frederik was a visiting researcher in Paris, Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Geneva. His teaching involves political and comparative constitutional history (Bachelor of Laws, Brussels/Antwerp) and history of international law (Master of Laws, Brussels/Antwerp). Frederik’s research focuses on the history diplomacy and legal argumentation in the 18th and 19th centuries. For an overview of publications, see Frederik started the ESIL IG’s blog ( after the ESIL conference in Vienna (September 2014), together with Randall Lesaffer and Ignacio de la Rasilla y del Moral. This source has become a reference in the field of international legal history, with on average 2.000 pageviews per month, mainly from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Spain. The blog signals all relevant books, journal issues and call for papers brought to the IG’s attention. In the coming years, supplementary collaborators (= extra bloggers) are required, to keep a regular flow of information. In 2017, Frederik co-convened and chaired the IG’s workshop at the Research Seminar in Granada on ‘Neutrality in the History of International Law’, one of his current research areas. As the continuity of the blog is essential to the IG group, Frederik Dhondt would propose to further ensure the flow of information to the members.

Hossein Piran (Senior Legal Advisor at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, The Hague)
Dr. Piran studied law in Teheran (1980, BA) and at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (1984, LLM International and European Law). He competed his PhD on Foreign Investment and Public International Law at the University of Liverpool in 1992. He authored three books in Persian, on Classical Theories of International Relations in Islam (2010), International Investment Law (2010) and on Nationalization of Foreign Property under International Law (1992). He translated Shaybani’s Siyar (2009), Grotius' Mare Liberum (2012) and De Iure Belli ac Pacis (2015). Dr. Piran is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.  
The Steering Committe has convened in its new composition. Jan Lemnitzer was designated as President. The Interest Group affirms its intention to be present at the ESIL Annual Conference, next September in Manchester. The blog will continue to operate. New scientific initiatives will be developed.

The Committee thanks the preceding team (Randall Lesaffer, Ignacio de la Rasilla y del Moral, Inge Van Hulle, Shavana Musa, Thomas Skouteris) for their efforts and initiatives since the ESIL Conference in Vienna (September 2014).

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