International Law in Art, Literature, Thought

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Gravity of the Past: Polish-Ukrainian Memory War and Freedom of Speech

There is a power to the words ‘I remember’: the power of an event long past, exerting itself upon the present […] When the words begin a flow of warmth or love, it is a positive, binding power, but it is the most divisive and negative one possible when they lead on to events of death and destruction… Ilana R. Bet-El Collective memory matters politically: it provides a nation with an identity and common myth of origin, legitimizing power by creating a desired image of the past. This explains why states are preoccupied with memory, prescribing by law what has to be remembered and what must be forgotten. Revanchism, ethnic cleansing and war are all results of memory. The clash of historical narratives sponsored by states can destroy interstate relations. This happened in the case of Poland and Ukraine; these States were involved in memory war because of the attempts, from both sides, to instrumentilise history and use it for nationalist and populist goals. These two countries were…

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A Moving Conference: Rights, Justice and Memories of the City

Conferences rarely get reviewed (but see a recent such review here), but given the amount of time, money and carbon emissions that goes into them, we may wish to evaluate them. Moreover, in reviewing a conference, we can try to capture and share an experience that, unlike a book, cannot be picked up again.

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Strange Angel: Some Reflections on War

The philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin owned a print, Angelus novus, by Paul Klee. In his essay, Theses on the philosophy of history, Benjamin’s Ninth Thesis recalled that it depicted: An angel…who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes…

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Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall”: A Disappointed Dream of Peace Through Law

In “Locksley Hall”–a lesser known masterpiece of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (pictured left)–a soldier ruminates on the disappointments of his youthful passion and idealism. Below is an excerpt in which the narrator reflects on his earlier vision of a future of peace through international law and commerce and his later disillusionment with that dream. The poem is remarkably post-modern given that it was first published…

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The Peace of Utrecht in 1713, a Painting by Semiramis Öner Mühüdaroğlu

The Treaty of Utrecht was until recently one of the few major peace treaties that had not been commemorated in a painting or photograph. The  treaty was finally memorialized on the occasion of its 300-year anniversary last year in a painting (pictured left, click to enlarge) by Turkish artist Semiramis Öner Mühüdaroğlu. The Treaty of…

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