Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Lincoln's Code": The Inaugural Duffy Lecture by John Fabian Witt

A recording of “Lincoln’s Code: The Puzzling History of the Laws of War,” John Fabian Witt’s inaugural lecture as the Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at the Yale Law School is available here (and on iTunesU). Here is a description from the school’s website:
“One hundred and fifty years ago next year, in the second year of the American Civil War,” said Witt, “Abraham Lincoln commissioned an eccentric Prussian immigrant named Francis Lieber to draft a distillation of the international laws of war for the instruction of the armies of the United States. Today, historians and lawyers view Lieber’s code as the foundation of modern humanitarian law, yet neither have been able to make sense of the document’s many puzzling features. To piece together the puzzling history of the laws of war is to revisit the United States’ engagement with the central conceptual dilemmas of the laws of war and to connect humanitarian law in wartime with the nineteenth century’s other great moral leap: emancipation and the end of slavery.”