History of International Law

Introduction

The Peace Palace Library has an impressive Old and rare books collection of 10.000 titles printed before 1850. Since its beginning in 1913 the Library has acquired a historical legal collection representing the various periods of thinking about international law, dominated by the Spanish, French or English schools. Writers from the 16th century: Jean Bodin, Ayala, Vitoria, the 17th century: Hugo Grotius, Gentili, Pufendorf, Zouche, and 18th century: Bynkershoek, Wolff, von Martens, Vattel, and 19th century Bluntschli, to name only a few. In total about 2400 authors represent the origins of international law. Modern authors on the history of international refer to these sources for their research.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research in the field of the History of International Law. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → History of international law and subject heading (keyword) History of International Law are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

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Bibliographies

Systematic classification → History of international law

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  • Fedele, D., Naissance de la diplomatie moderne (XIIIe-XVIIe siècles): l'ambassadeur au croisement du droit, de l'éthique et de la politique, Baden-Baden, Nomos, 2017. Showcase item

    The author investigates the birth of modern diplomacy. Drawing on a wide-ranging body of textual materials dealing with the ambassador from the 13th to the 17th century, he analyses how that figure was developed within a complex constantly renewed field of interaction between law, ethics and politics, where theory and practice are intertwined in an unresolved dialectical interaction. The first part examines how the legal status of the ambassador was shaped during the late Middle Ages and how this process influenced early-modern scholarship on diplomacy. The second part investigates how the emergence of the modern State both reinvigorated and reshaped the scholarly approaches to the different themes linked to the figure of the ambassador. The third part proposes an account of how the professional status of the ambassador developed within the examined body of literature. Through the prism of these approaches, diplomacy appears as a foundational matrix of modern political rationality.

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  • Macalister-Smith, P. and J. Schwietzke, Diplomatic Conferences and Congresses: A Bibliographical Compendium of State Practice 1642 to 1919, Graz-Feldkirch, Wolfgang Neugebauer, 2017. Showcase item

    A survey of diplomatic conferences and congresses convened worldwide from 1642 to 1919 with extensive references to their published documents. Includes additionally a synopsis of the resulting acts, agreements, conventions, declarations and other instruments adopted by the states participating in each conference or congress. The meetings of the conferences and congresses are arranged thematically in 111 groups starting at Münster and Osnabrück to prepare the Peace of Westphalia. In total 280 conferences and congresses are recorded. Over one third of the conferences and congresses were held from 1827 to 1919 at London and Paris. Other leading cities in order of diminishing frequency were Brussels, Bern, The Hague, Berlin, Istanbul, Washington and Vienna. The compendium closes with the peace of Brest-Litovsk (1917) and the Inter-Allied Conference of the Powers held in Paris and environs from 1919 to 1920. The Latin American and Pan American congresses are well represented, for example at Buenos Aires, Guatemala, Lima, Managua, Mexico, Montevideo, Panama, Rio de Janeiro, San José, San Salvador, Santiago and Tegucigalpa. Annexes supply further information on the Versailles treaty with Germany and the Covenant of the League of Nations.

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  • Alexandrowicz, C.H.; D. Armitage and J. Pitts (eds.), The Law of Nations in Global History, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017. Showcase item

    In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the need to write a global history of law of nations that disengages from parochial national and regional histories. It is hoped that these developments will bring centre-stage the work of Charles Henry Alexandrowicz (1902–75), a scholar who was among the first to conceptualize the history of international law as that of intersecting histories of different regions of the world. Alexandrowicz was aware that, while the idea of writing a global history of law of nations is liberating, there is no guarantee that it will not become the handmaiden of contemporary and future imperial projects. What were needed were critical global histories that provincialize established Eurocentric historiographies and read them alongside other regional histories. This book aims to make Alexandrowicz’s writings more widely available and read. The Introduction to this book sums up the context, issues, problems, and questions that engaged Alexandrowicz, as well as some of his central theses. His writings are a gold mine waiting to be explored. Alexandrowicz contributed to the effort of promoting the idea of international rule of law by rejecting a Eurocentric history and theory of international law.

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  • Koskenniemi, M. (eds.) (et al.), International Law and Empire: Historical Explorations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017.

    In times in which ‘global governance’ in its various forms, such as human rights, international trade law and development projects, is increasingly promoted by transnational economic actors and international institutions that seem to be detached from democratic processes of legitimation, the question of the relationship between international law and empire is as topical as ever. By examining this relationship in historical contexts from early modernity to the present, this volume aims at deepening current understandings of the way international legal institutions, practices, and narratives have shaped specifically imperial ideas about and structures of world governance. As it explores fundamental ways in which international legal discourses have operated in colonial as well as European contexts, the book enters a heated debate on the involvement of the modern law of nations in imperial projects. All chapters contribute to this emerging body of scholarship by drawing out the complexity and ambivalence of the relationship between international law and empire. They expand on the critique of Western imperialism while acknowledging the nuances and ambiguities of international legal discourse and, in some cases, the possibility of counter-hegemonic claims being articulated through the language of international law. Importantly, as the book suggests that international legal argument may sometimes be used to counter imperial enterprises, it maintains that international law can barely escape the Eurocentric framework within which the progressive aspirations of internationalism were conceived,

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  • Arnauld, A. von (Hrsg.), Völkerrechtsgeschichte(n): historische Narrative und Konzepte im Wandel, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 2017. Showcase item

    Völkerrechtsgeschichte(n). Der Begriff deutet an, dass die Geschichte des Völkerrechts nicht einfach-linear ist, sondern vielgestaltig und abhängig von der Perspektive dessen, der sie erzählt. Sich mit Geschichte zu befassen, heißt zu fragen, wer an was aus welchem Grund erinnert. Der Begriff deutet zugleich an, dass die Historiographie eng mit jenen Narrativen verbunden ist, die Völker und Staatengruppen zu Kollektiven formen. Welche historischen Gegenbilder schaffen wir mit der Rede vom »Westfälischen System«, wie konstruieren wir Epochen und Zäsuren, wie konzeptualisieren wir historischen Wandel – und aus welcher Perspektive? Diesen Fragen geht der vorliegende Band nach. Zugleich werden fundamentale Konzepte des Völkerrechts (internationale Gemeinschaft, Krieg und Frieden, Räume) in ihrem Wandel historisch rekonstruiert. Auf diese Weise soll die Funktion deutlich werden, die solche Rekonstruktionen für unsere Deutung des Völkerrechts der Gegenwart erfüllen.

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Database

Blogs

  • Book Review: War, Peace and International Order?

    This book attempts to assess the history and on-going relevance of the 1899 and 1907 Hague peace conferences, the conventions they brought into being, the institutions they established and the precedents they set. The exact legacies of the two conferences remain unclear. On the one hand, diplomatic and military historians, who cast their gaze to 1914, traditionally dismiss the events of 1899 and 1907 as insignificant footnotes on the path to the First World War. On the other, experts in international law posit that The Hague’s foremost legacy lies in the manner in which the conferences progressed the law of war and the concept and application of international justice.

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  • The Treaties of Ryswick (1697)

    In 1697, the Huis ter Nieuburch in Rijswijk was the scene of the negotiations which led to so-called “Peace of Ryswick”. These negotiations sought to end the Nine-Years War between France on one side and the Grand Alliance of Spain, England, The Dutch Republic and The Holy Roman Empire. The Peace Treaty of Rijswijk was not a single document but consisted of a number of treaties which were signed during the months of September and October 1697. The treaties have been scanned in order to familiarize researchers with our historical collection.

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  • The Raid on the Medway, 1667: Forcing Peace at Breda

    350 Years ago, the Treaty of Breda was signed at the Dutch city of Breda, 31 July, 1667, by England, the Dutch Republic, France, and Denmark-Norway. It brought a hasty end to the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667) in favour of the Dutch. It was a typical quick uti possidetis treaty. In the latter stages of the war, the Dutch had prevailed. Lieutenant-Admiral-General Michiel de Ruyter virtually controlled the seas around the south coast of England. His presence encouraged English commissioners to sue for peace quickly. Negotiations, which had been long protracted, and had actually begun in Breda before the raid, took only ten days to conclude after resumption of talks.

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  • Happy Retirement Ingrid!

    [On the retirement of our curator Ingrid Kost; blog in Dutch] Vandaag 15 januari 2015 is een memorabele dag voor de bibliotheek van het Vredespaleis. Wij nemen na 39 jaar afscheid van onze collega Ingrid Kost. Zij zal genieten van een welverdiend pensioen. Tijd om andere dingen te gaan doen, zoals oppassen op de kleinkinderen en bijenhouden. Wij zullen haar deerlijk missen als collega en als mens. Alvorens vandaag afscheid te nemen, spraken wij met haar en haalden herinneringen op.

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  • Building a 'Temple for Peace': the Choice of the Site

    The Treaty for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, concluded on 29 July 1899, determined that the newly created Permanent Court of Arbitration was to be established at The Hague. As Andrew Carnegie’s gift of 1903 was meant primarily for the erection of a new and appealing court house and library to serve its arbiters, there could be no argument, as to where this ‘Temple for Peace’ was to be built. It should be at The Hague. But where in The Hague precisely was quite another thing.

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  • Building a ‘Temple for Peace’: Inspired Advocates and a Philanthropist

    Shortly after the 1899 Hague Peace Conference had ended, William T. Stead, a highly energetic and respected British journalist and pacifist who had followed the peace conference as an observer, and Andrew D. White, the American head of delegation and ambassador in Germany, convinced the Scottish-born American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to finance the ‘Temple for Peace’ that was to become the Peace Palace in The Hague.

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  • Building a ‘Temple for Peace’: the 1899 Hague Peace Conference

    This year, the Peace Palace, will celebrate its 100-year Anniversary. As official celebrations will commence in August, the Peace Palace Library starts with a series of library blogs in retrospect. The foundation of the Peace Palace in 1913 marked a pivotal point between two centuries. At the end of the 19th century, the idea of world peace was blooming as never before. At the dawn of the 20th century however, expectations had toned down considerably.

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  • “John Selden : Scholarship in Context” Conference

    Magdalen College in Oxford hosted the “John Selden : Scholarship in Context” Conference from 24th-26th June, a tribute to England’s “Chief of learned men”.

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  • Impressions of the 60 years Genocide Convention

    Impressions of the 60 years Genocide Convention On Sunday 7 and Monday 8 December, The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Center for International Law and the Peace Palace Library organized a conference in The Hague to mark the 60th anniversary of the Genocide Convention. At the conference several legal and […]

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See also

More Research guides on Public International Law

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Systematic classification → History of international law