History of International Law

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Damaged Beyond Repair? International Law after Gaza

“Never has [an international law professor] sensed such profound skepticism about the legitimacy and usefulness of the discipline he teaches. Hasn’t the appalling conflict unfolding before our eyes demonstrated with tremendous eloquence the vanity, or at least the extreme fragility, of a so-called legal order in relations between states, at the very moment when its development was announced as certain and complete? Is it not, therefore, a very serious error and peril to lead people to trust in the rationality of law in an area where force has the last word?” These words could easily be mistaken for yet another instance of lamentation about international law uttered in 2024. Many readers may be surprised to hear that they were pronounced by Dionisio Anzilotti in his inaugural conference at the University of Rome just a few weeks after the invasion of Belgium by Germany in 1914.

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Project 2100—Is the International Legal Order Fit for Purpose?

It is in the darkest moments that we must ask the hardest questions and peer through the gloom in an attempt to see the light. The events to the east of us raise stark questions—about the current world order; about the place and effectiveness of the United Nations; about what the U.S. long-term assessment of global…

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Belgium’s return of Lumumba’s tooth: A new moment for anti-colonial struggles?

June 2022 was marked by a critical event in South-North relations: Belgium returning a tooth to Congo. As trivial as it may sound, the return of the gold-crowned tooth ends a quarrel of 62 years between the former colonial and colonized peoples regarding the murder of the anti-colonial leader Patrice Lumumba. More than that, the declaration that accompanied…

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Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine and the Idealised Symbolism of Nuremberg

The Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT) has a very strong symbolic standing for all post-Soviet nations and especially for Russia. Nuances, complexities and shortcomings are inherent to the IMT legacy. However, in Ukraine, Russia and the wider region, a Nuremberg reference will almost always have the connotation of paramount justice and the victory of the ultimate good…

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Hope and the Gradual Self-Constituting of Mankind

Philip Allott is a mind-altering substance. It is not possible to leave one of his lectures, or to read one of his books or articles, without undergoing a profound change in thought and attitude towards humanity and the role of law in its service. The idea of international law as the law of all humanity and…

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