A new issue of EJIL has just be published. We begin this issue with a symposium, curated (!) and introduced by Nehal Bhuta, a member of the EJIL Scientific Advisory Board, presenting and then commenting on an article by Jeremy Waldron ‘Are Sovereigns Entitled to the Benefit of the Rule of Law?’ Four commentators, Alexander Somek, Thomas Poole, David Dyzenhaus and Samantha Besson, engage in a discussion on Jeremy Waldron’s main claim which he develops further in his response: that the issue of applicability of the Rule of Law in the sphere of international law must be assessed in relation to two correlated propositions (1) the ‘true’ subjects of international law and beneficiaries of the Rule of Law are individuals, whereas (2) states must be considered as agencies of the international legal system. Both Waldron and some of the distinguished commentators in this symposium might not be on the reading list of many of our readers. The renewed interest by general legal philosophy in matters international and in international law is to be welcomed and EJIL is happy to be at the forefront.
We are always open to suggestions from our readers and authors who would like to propose interesting symposia and serve as ‘curators’.
In our occasional series, The European Tradition in International Law, it is the heritage of the late French international lawyer, René-Jean Dupuy, that is analysed. Pierre-Marie Dupuy (a founder of EJIL) opens with a vibrant portrait of his father’s intellectual legacy in counterpoint with that of another giant of international law, his friend Wolfgang Friedmann. Alix Toublanc, Evelyne Lagrange and Julien Cantegreil, representing the French new international scholarship, then explore René-Jean’s Dupuy’s contribution to the shaping of contemporary international law and an understanding of its challenges.
In this issue we feature one central article: Steven Ratner’s important piece concerning the International Committee of the Red Cross’ strategies to foster compliance with the laws of war. It is part of a new interest in, and approach to, the question of compliance, an instance of which in the field of human rights we noted in an article by Ryan Goodman some time ago. Ratner’s article repays careful study.
In this issue’s EJIL: Debate! Susan Marks and Steven Wheatley return to the challenges posed by the ideal of democratic legitimacy as applied to contemporary global governance through international law. Jean d’Aspremont, in his reply to Susan Marks, cannot but reassert the troubled and troubling democratic credentials of international law.
Take note of the Review Essay by Michael Waibel, reviewing six different books which have as their common objective the demystification of treaty interpretation: Carlos Fernández de Casadevante Romani, Sovereignty and Interpretation of International Norms; Richard Gardiner, Treaty Interpretation; Robert Kolb, Interprétation et création du droit international. Esquisse d’une herméneutique juridique moderne pour le droit international public ; Ulf Linderfalk, On the Interpretation of Treaties. The Modern International Law as Expressed in the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; Alexander Orakhelashvili, The Interpretation of Acts and Rules in Public International Law; and Isabelle Van Damme, Treaty Interpretation by the WTO Appellate Body.
Our hope is to privilege this form of Review Essay covering different books (in different languages!) and encourage interested reviewers to write to our Book Review Editor to discuss future such projects.
Impressions – Karl Doehring RIP
Karl Doehring, the distinguished German international lawyer, passed away on 24 March in Heidelberg. I got to know him years ago, at the beginning of my career, when I spent a semester as a Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck in Heidelberg. It was an interesting experience. The highlight of the week was the famous Referentenbesprechung which confirmed, in part at least, some of our fast-held caricatures of Germany. It was impressively, enviably, oh so serious. That’s what academic discourse should be, week in week out. It was also impressively, laughably, hierarchical. The order of intervention was as rigid as an invitation list to a ball in the court of Louis XIV. I was young, and worse, foreign and, worse still with poor German – the lowest in the pecking order. It was a bit familiar – as the fifth child among six, one is trained to fight for one’s place at the table. You would think that I would not even be a blip on the Doehring radar. Quite the opposite: he took a surprising interest in me and we had many (a combative) conversation. He seemed to like sparring with me. It was flattering. He took me seriously. He was genuinely interested in what I had to say. I was to learn that throughout his academic career he took a similar interest in younger scholars. He was very conservative – which required courage in the politically correct milieu of international lawyers. I respected him for that too. I was fascinated by his military career during World War II. He talked about it openly and naturally. He had nothing to hide.
It turns out that in this issue we may be publishing the last thing that Karl Doehring wrote. In our book review section we are starting an occasional new rubric, Impressions. With Impressions, as the name indicates, we wish to provide a forum for a more personal, historical-contextual approach to book reviewing. We have asked some of our older, possibly wiser, scholars of public international law to revisit a book which very much influenced their thinking, a book that indeed made a lasting impression on them. Rather than presenting a critical assessment of the book, our reviewers will be asked to offer personal reflections on the impact a book has had on their own thinking as well as its past and continued relevance for public international law scholarship.
Karl Doehring opens this series writing on Georg Dahm’s Völkerrecht. Dahm’s book is everything that Doehring says about it, which goes to show that even a disgusting human being, as Dahm turned out to be during the Nazi period, can produce a first-class book. History is full of such. But Karl Doehring (and his family) who faced the same temptations and seductions which Dahm faced, and resisted them, is proof that even in the most difficult of times, one can acquit oneself with honour and dignity.
If you are holding EJIL in your hands, you will not be able to miss Roaming Charges: Berlin. After all, when is the last time you found two full-size colour photographs in a learned journal? Roaming Charges, like the poem on our Last Page, is to be a new feature of EJIL aimed at enhancing that ‘book experience’ – a moment of reflection as well as aesthetic pleasure disconnected from any specific research interest and the usual cerebral activity of reading a learned article. It will feature different locales or scenes from around the world, which, in their way, have something to say – without words – about our present condition. ‘Roaming’, ‘Charges’, and those irritating ‘Roaming Charges’ – the title of this feature was chosen because of the multiple and at times conflicting meanings, feelings and associations the words, jointly and severally, evoke and which we hope to capture in our choice of photographs. Take a moment – enjoy, reflect. If you are online, pause before the next click.
The Last Page
We conclude with a poem, Midas, by Laura Coyne.