ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

maandag 29 augustus 2022

CONFERENCE: ESIL Annual Conference, Interest Group History of International Law Pre-conference Hybrid Workshop 'Histories of Inclusion / Exclusion in International Law' (Utrecht/Zoom, 31 August - 1 September 2022)


2022 ESIL Annual Conference, Utrecht

Pre-Conference Workshop ESIL Interest Group on the History of International Law

Histories of Inclusion / Exclusion in International Law

Today’s international lawyers and historians of international law have become acutely aware that the legacy of modern international law is ambivalent. International law is claimed to be a normative project evolving towards universal scope. Yet, the idea of it has also been (ab)used for purposes of domination that has excluded non-European territories, peoples, and substantive issues from the scope of protection offered by the allegedly universalist law. Most notably, exclusion has been implemented through the so-called standard of civilization. Yet, international law has experienced many defining moments - the establishment of the League of Nations and the United Nations, proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, the establishment of international courts and tribunals beginning with the institution of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Permanent Court of International Justice, the Nuremberg and Tokyo Military Tribunals, the International Criminal Court, the Bretton-Woods system and the transition from the diplomacy of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to the World Trade Organisation’s Appellate Body, to name but a few. Altogether, international regimes have included as they have equally excluded many peoples, territories, subject matters, techniques, and methodologies throughout history. How much could international law possibly include – states, individuals, communities, non-state actors, which topics? Everything? Or would it be enough, for peremptory norms and cognate principles to be inclusive? Is there any substance beyond procedural matters of standing to the much vaunted erga omnes? Which methodologies and subject matters have been dominant in the history of international law, and which has international law missed? What, who, when, where, how, and why has been excluded?

Program – 31st of August 2022, 2 pm – 5 pm (CET)

Word of welcome from the organizers – Florenz Volkaert

Panel 1: In / Exclusion in international law through the lens of literature and gender

-        Histories of Inclusion/Exclusion in International (Criminal) Law

Teodora Schrotter, Cambridge University - University of London

-        Wartime Sexual Violence in 19th Century International Law

Anastasia Hammerschmied, Universität Wien

-        On Magic and Mandates: Decolonising Witchcraft and Sorcery in the History of International Human Rights

Aditi Patil, Human Rights Measurement Initiative

Rashmi Dharia, Sciences Po Law School

Concluding remarks – Jaanika Erne

Program – 1st of September 2022, 9 am – 12 am (CET)

Word of welcome from the organizers – Markus Beham

Panel 2: In / Exclusion in the history of international law and capitalism

-        Law, ideology and capitalist reason: the violence of abstraction as a mechanism of exclusion/inclusion in international law

Matheus Gobbato Leichtweis, Universidad Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

-        Treaties of commerce and the most-favored-nation clause in late 19th- and early 20th-century legal doctrine: a tool for economic and/or civilizational in / exclusion?

Florenz Volkaert, Ghent University

Panel 3: In / Exclusion of culture and minorities in the history of international law

-        Historicizing the Politics of Interpretation: The Exclusion/Inclusion of Cultural Context through Legal Interpretation

Dr. Ríán Derrig, World Maritime University

-        Who are minority rights for? The Role of Petitions and the League of Nations minority rights regime

Dr. Elizabeth Craig, University of Sussex

Panel 4: In / Exclusion in the history of international investment law

-        Deconstructing the exclusion of corporations from international legal personality

Christopher Yaw Nyinevi, Monash University

-        Equitable Representation on International Benches and the Appointment of Investor-State Dispute Settlement Tribunal Members: A Historical Perspective

Yanweng ZhangUniversity College London

Concluding remarks – Jaanika Erne

For more information, consult the ESIL website and ESIL Annual Conference website.

SYMPOSIUM: JHIL Celebrates "To the Uttermost Parts of the Earth" (Zoom, 6 September 2022)

Image source: Brill
Image source: CUP

On 6 September 2022, the Journal of the History of International Law is organising an online evening symposium (CET 20.00h-22.00) to celebrate the publication of Martti Koskenniemi's book 'To the Uttermost Parts of the Earth: Legal Imagination and International Power, 1300-1870 (Cambridge University Press, 2021). The event will take place on Zoom.

This is the program:
Chair: Dr. Inge Van Hulle (Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory)
20.00h: Welcome by Prof. Randall Lesaffer (KU Leuven/Tilburg University) 
20.05h: Presentation of book by Prof. Martti Koskenniemi (University of Helsinki)
20.30h: Comments by Prof. Koen Stapelbroek (James Cook University): 'Commerce, capitalism and the law of nations'
20.45h: Comments by Prof. Jennifer Pitts (University of Chicago): 'The struggle between statehood and civil society'
21.00h: Comments by Prof. Wim Decock (UCLouvain): 'Theology and the justification of sovereignty and property'
21.15h: Response by Prof. Martti Koskenniemi
21.30h: Open discussion and questions

Please register by sending an email to:

woensdag 17 augustus 2022

BOOK: Claire VERGERIO, War, States, and International Order: Alberico Gentili and the Foundational Myth of the Laws of War (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Image source: CUP

Who has the right to wage war? The answer to this question constitutes one of the most fundamental organizing principles of any international order. Under contemporary international humanitarian law, this right is essentially restricted to sovereign states. It has been conventionally assumed that this arrangement derives from the ideas of the late-sixteenth century jurist Alberico Gentili. Claire Vergerio argues that this story is a myth, invented in the late 1800s by a group of prominent international lawyers who crafted what would become the contemporary laws of war. These lawyers reinterpreted Gentili's writings on war after centuries of marginal interest, and this revival was deeply intertwined with a project of making the modern sovereign state the sole subject of international law. By uncovering the genesis and diffusion of this narrative, Vergerio calls for a profound reassessment of when and with what consequences war became the exclusive prerogative of sovereign states. 
  • Explores the origins of our modern understanding of warfare in international law
  • Combines international relations, history, and international law to cast new light on an old debate
  • Formulates and deploys an intellectual historical method for the study of the reception of great thinkers in international relations
Table of Contents:

1. Context, reception, and the study of great thinkers in International Relations

Part I. Gentili's De iure Belli in its Original Context:

2. Alberico Gentili's De iure Belli: Between Bodin and the reason of state tradition

3. Grounding an absolutist approach to the laws of war

Part II. Gentili's De iure Belli and the Myth of 'Modern War':

4. Unearthing the 'true founder' of international law

5. Constructing the history of the 'modern' laws of war

6. Carl Schmitt and the entrenchment of the myth.

More information with CUP.

woensdag 10 augustus 2022

BOOK: Oliver RICHMOND, The Grand Design: The Evolution of the International Peace Architecture Oliver P. Richmond Table of Contents (OUP, 2022)

Image Source: OUP


The guiding principle of peacemaking and peacebuilding over the past quarter century has been "liberal peace": the promotion of democracy, capitalism, law, and respect for human rights. These components represent a historic effort to prevent a reoccurrence of the nationalism, fascism, and economic collapse that led to the World Wars as well as many later conflicts. Ultimately, this strategy has been somewhat successful in reducing war between countries, but it has failed to produce legitimate and sustainable forms of peace at the domestic level. The goals of peacebuilding have changed over time and place, but they have always been built around compromise via processes of intervention aimed at supporting "progress" in conflict-affected countries. They have simultaneously promoted changes in the regional and global order.

As Oliver P. Richmond argues in this book, the concept of peace has evolved continuously through several eras: from the imperial era, through the states-system, liberal, and current neoliberal eras of states and markets. It holds the prospect of developing further through the emerging "digital" era of transnational networks, new technologies, and heightened mobility. Yet, as recent studies have shown, only a minority of modern peace agreements survive for more than a few years and many peace agreements and peacebuilding missions have become intractable, blocked, or frozen. This casts a shadow on the legitimacy, stability, and effectiveness of the overall international peace architecture, reflecting significant problems in the evolution of an often violently contested international and domestic order.

This book examines the development of the international peace architecture, a "grand design" comprising various subsequent attempts to develop a peaceful international order. Richmond examines six main theoretical-historical stages in this process often addressed through peacekeeping and international mediation, including the balance of power mechanism of the 19th Century, liberal internationalism after World War I, and the expansion of rights and decolonization after World War II. It also includes liberal peacebuilding after the end of the Cold War, neoliberal statebuilding during the 2000s, and an as yet unresolved current "digital" stage. They have produced a substantial, though fragile, international peace architecture. However, it is always entangled with, and hindered by, blockages and a more substantial counter-peace framework. The Grand Design provides a sweeping look at the troubled history of peace processes, peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding, and their effects on the evolution of international order. It also considers what the next stage may bring.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Age of Intervention and the Emergence of a 20th Century International Peace Architecture
Part I: The Early Evolution of the International Peace Architecture
Chapter I: Some Background Observations, Theory, and Concepts
Chapter II: A Sketch of the International Peace Architecture
Chapter III: Stages One and Two in the Development of the International Peace Architecture
Chapter IV: Stage Two: The Rise of Liberal Constitutionalism and Liberal Internationalism
Chapter V: Stages Three and Four and the Expansion of Rights: The Critical Challenge to Stages One and Two
Part II: Derailment and Bifurcation
Chapter VI: The Transition from Stage Four to Stage Five of the International Peace Architecture
Chapter VII: The Derailment of the Transition to Stage Five
Chapter VIII: Stage Five and Neoliberal Statebuilding
Chapter IX: Stage Six: Updating Emancipatory Peace or Revisiting Geopolitics?
Chapter X: Implications for Different Elements of the Contemporary Peace Architecture
Conclusion: The Limits of the Old and New Possibilities

More information with OUP.

woensdag 3 augustus 2022

BOOK: David SCHNEIDERMAN, Investment Law's Alibis: Colonialism, Imperialism, Debt and Development (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

Source: CUP


This book aims to connect narratives associated with the past to the international regime that protects property and contract rights of foreign investors. The book scrutinizes justifications offered to sustain practices associated with colonialism, imperialism, civilized justice, debt, and development, revealing that a number of the rationales offered in support of investment law disciplines replicate those arising out of this discredited past. By revealing these linkages, the book raises concerns about investment law's premises. It would appear that the normative foundations for today's regime reproduces discursive practices that are less than compelling. The book argues that citizens deserve something more than historically discredited reasons to justify the exercise of power over them – something more than mere pretext.
  • Connects investment law with historic practices that are difficult to defend, discussing how the field reproduces practices reminiscent of the discredited past
  • Connects investment arbitration to outcomes that are reminiscent of unjust historical practices, providing detailed discussion of contemporary investment arbitral jurisprudence and highlighting how their outcomes reproduce unjust practices
  • Engages with important literature in the fields of colonialism, imperialism, debt and development
Table of Contents:

1. Colonialism of investment law
2. Imperialism of investment law
3. The decline and rise of standards of civilized justice
4. The stifling threat of debt
5. The difficulty of decolonizing investment law
6. Divesting for development
More information with CUP.