Book ReviewResponse

Heroes and theories

A response to Raphael Schäfer

In his post, Raphael Schäfer provides a considerate, careful and kind re-reading of my dissertation on Hermann Mosler and West German international legal scholarship after 1945. Raphael makes, by and large, three critical remarks. First, he indicates that my exploration of alternative conceptions to the practice-oriented method might be a misfit. Second, he wonders whether I overemphasize Mosler’s formative influence on German international legal scholarship. And third, he suggests that I …

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Book ReviewKick-off

Practice as method

Germany’s rehabilitation in and through international law

‘International law is what international lawyers do.’ This statement slightly abridged taken from Martti Koskenniemi’s seminal Gentle Civilizer of Nations, points forthright to one of international law’s key characteristics: it is shaped by practice. This practice – not being a source of international law in itself without supporting opinio juris – is of course first and foremost set by states. On a second layer state practice is to a certain …

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Current Developments

Judicial imperialism and the PCIJ’s interpretation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne (Part II)

This is the second part of a two-part analysis of the PCIJ’s Advisory Opinion concerning the Interpretation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. The first part reviewed the opinion’s background and the drafting history of article 3 of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which the Advisory Opinion focussed on. Article 3 concerned the delimitation of the boundary between Turkey and Iraq following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The key …

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Current Developments

Judicial imperialism and the PCIJ’s interpretation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne (Part I)

It is commonly accepted that the contemporary instability in certain areas of the Middle East is attributable, at least in part, to the arbitrary manner in which many boundaries were drawn by the victorious powers after the end of the First World War. Less often discussed is the role that international law and, in particular, the Permanent Court of International Justice (the ‘PCIJ’) played in this context. By scrutinising the …

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Event

Provoking the Single Story

A Report of the MPIL/JHIL-Conference “Politics and the Histories of International Law”

Telling a history of international law is every time a mode of echoing oneself in the present. The danger of a single storyand its oppressive force to identities and peoples that are misrepresented or not represented in it have been stressed in recent years by many scholars, but not only them. It was perhaps most remarkably and famously spelled out by the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in a TED …

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Book Review

Hard times for voices from the Global South

Decolonization and the validity of existing treaties

For a long time, international legal scholars did not devote much attention to protagonists from the Global South as relevant actors in the field. The focus of the discipline – at least in continental Europe – was on contributing to the systematization of the international legal order. The few studies on particular national or regional approaches to international law largely focused on the perspectives of the Soviet and US American …

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Semi-ColonialismSymposium

Semi-colonialism and international legal history: the view from Bhutan

As simply a matter of history, the Kingdom of Bhutan’s experience with Occidental powers could not be more different than that of the colonial experience of Bhutan’s neighbor and closest ally, India. Bhutan proudly – and for all intents and purposes, rightly – claims that it has never been conquered or colonized, either by a European power or by an Asian neighbor. Furthermore, consequences of geography and geology make comparisons …

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Semi-ColonialismSymposium

The a-historicity of Preah Vihear and the space for inter-disciplinarity in international law

Of International Law, Semi-colonial Thailand, and Imperial Ghosts is wide-ranging in research, nuanced in analysis, and replete with archival nuggets and food for thought. Prabhakar makes a number of important and interesting contributions in this paper. First, he convincingly substantiates a practical and theoretical distinction between colonies and semi-colonies. He goes on to demonstrate the continuing relevance of this distinction to the engagement of former colonies and semi-colonies with international law. …

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Semi-ColonialismSymposium

The Gods and Demons of the Preah Vihear Temple

The Churning I finally visited the Temple of Preah Vihear on 22 December 2018. Strikingly, the makers of the ancient temples of Cambodia appear infatuated with a particular Indian mythic leitmotif, the churning of the milk ocean. In order to churn the milk-ocean, Vishnu, a Hindu god, turns into a turtle to allow the planting of the Mount Mandhar, the churner, on his shell. Next, Vasuki, the serpent, is wrapped …

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South and East Asian Perspectives on International LawSymposium

Multiperspectivism in and on international law

The symposium on “South and East Asian perspectives on international law” postulates that perspectives matter for the understanding, interpretation, and application of international law. I agree, but would like to caution against throwing out the baby with the bathwater by giving up the never-ending struggle for a bottom-up universalisation of the international legal discourse. Our scholarly approaches, arguments and assessments are value-loaded and connect to underlying political and theoretical preferences …

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