Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The History of International Law: A Continental Perspective

Raymond Kubben, Tilburg University Law School, has posted two papers on international law from a Continental perspective. The first is Completing an Unfinished Jigsaw Puzzle: Cornelis Van Vollenhoven and the Study of International Law:
This paper examines the views of the Dutch lawyer and philologist Cornelis van Vollenhoven (1874-1933) on how to study law and international law in particular. Van Vollenhoven assessed that international law was in a state of uncertainty and inchoateness which it was the lawyer’s obligation to transcend. Since most textbooks, with or without good reason, fail to mention him, Van Vollenhoven is one of those striking personalities one is likely to have heard about as an international legal historian but who remains nothing but a casual acquaintance nonetheless. This paper primarily sets out to elaborate on Van Vollenhoven’s ontological and epistemological views on international law thus shedding light on some aspects of his thought and writings that have not received the attention they deserve yet. Van Vollenhoven was both involved in scholarly work on international law and left behind various publications on legal methodology. The scholar willing to dig into his collected writings comes across a rather eclectic and hence probably unique though not highly original approach to the study of law. His endevour to classify jurisprudence among the exact sciences combined with some of his political positions on international order and the law of the Dutch East Indies resulted in an empiricist, evolutionist, and institutionalist perspective according to which a scientific approach to international law boils down to the combination of three methods: a systematic, a historical, and a comparative one. This paper aims at providing a sketch of that approach.
The second is Sister Republics: Power and Law in Revolutionary Europe:
The French Revolution provoked the revival of Franco-Austrian and gave a new boost to Franco-British rivalry. Both conflicts encouraged the French Republic to bring the second and third rank powers of Western Europe within its sphere of influence. This paper sets out to address the implications of this strategy for interstate legal relations. One of the answers to no longer being able to balance Austria and Russia in the east was for France to set out for hegemony in the west by annexing the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhineland, and by creating a chain of ‘sister republics’ along its borders, that is, in the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Italy. This paper addresses whether the principles and rules of a legal order of independence and equality were upheld. What role did law and legal arguments play in the relations between France and its sister republics? How did the French exercise their hegemony? The paper elaborates on one specific case - negotiations on the 1795 Treaty of The Hague between France and the Batavian Republic, with particular attention being paid to French territorial demands.
Image credit: van Vollenhoven