ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

maandag 11 maart 2019

BOOK: Patrick MILTON, Michael AXWORTHY, and Brendan SIMMS, Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). ISBN 9780190947897, $39.95

(Source: OUP)

Oxford University Press has published a book that aims to draw lessons from the Treaties of Westphalia for the long wars in the Middle East today.   


It was the original forever war, which went on interminably, fuelled by religious fanaticism, personal ambition, fear of hegemony, and communal suspicion. It dragged in all the neighbouring powers. It was punctuated by repeated failed ceasefires. It inflicted suffering beyond belief and generated waves of refugees. No, this is not Syria today, but the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), which turned Germany and much of central Europe into a disaster zone.

The Thirty Years' War is often cited as a parallel in discussions of the Middle East. The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the conflict in 1648, has featured strongly in such discussions, usually with the observation that recent events in some parts of the region have seen the collapse of ideas of state sovereignty--ideas that supposedly originated with the 1648 settlement.

Axworthy, Milton and Simms argue that the Westphalian treaties, far from enshrining state sovereignty, in fact reconfigured and strengthened a structure for legal resolution of disputes, and provided for intervention by outside guarantor powers to uphold the peace settlement. This book argues that the history of Westphalia may hold the key to resolving the new long wars in the Middle East today.


Patrick Milton is a postdoctoral research fellow at Freie Universität Berlin, working on early modern Europe. Michael Axworthy is Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter and author, inter alia, of Revolutionary Iran. Brendan Simms is Professor in the History of International Relations, University of Cambridge and author, inter alia, of Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present.


Körber Foundation
Federal Foreign Office of Germany
1. Introduction
2. Challenges and Crises in the Middle East
3. From Religious Peace to the Thirty Years War: Multiple Crises in Europe and the Holy Roman Empire, 1555-1648
4. The Peace Congress of Münster and Osnabrück (1643-1648) and the Westphalian Order (1648-1806)
5. Parallels and Analogies
6. Lessons for the Middle East: Peacemaking mechanisms, Diplomatic techniques, and a new Regional Order

More information here
(source: ESCLH Blog)