Friday, October 20, 2017

Kolla on International Law & the French Revolution

Out this month by Edward James Kolla (Georgetown University) is Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution in the "Studies in Legal History" series with Cambridge University Press. From the publisher:

Sovereignty, International Law, and the French RevolutionThe advent of the principle of popular sovereignty during the French Revolution inspired an unintended but momentous change in international law. Edward James Kolla explains that between 1789 and 1799, the idea that peoples ought to determine their fates in international affairs, just as they were taking power domestically in France, inspired a series of new and interconnected claims to territory. Drawing on case studies from Avignon, Belgium, the Rhineland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy, Kolla traces how French revolutionary diplomats and leaders gradually applied principles derived from new domestic political philosophy and law to the international stage. Instead of obtaining land via dynastic inheritance or conquest in war, the will of the people would now determine the title and status of territory. However, the principle of popular sovereignty also opened up new justifications for aggressive conquest, and this history foreshadowed some of the most controversial questions in international relations today.
Praise for the book:

“When the right of peoples to self-determination creates an international law immediately to the advantage of the French Revolution and ultimately for our present world, a brilliant paradoxical book explaining how the French Revolution was a key experiment for our modernity.” -Jean-Clément Martin

“In this brilliant and thoughtful study of international law during the French Revolution, Kolla presents a fascinating history of the principle of national self-determination, as it developed over a century before Woodrow Wilson brought this idea to Versailles. Kolla’s book will be of great interest to historians of modern Europe, political theorists, and legal scholars.” -Dan Edelstein

“Kolla's bold and thought-provoking study transforms our view of the French Revolution's importance for international law. Kolla persuasively argues for positive advances, rooted in the doctrine of popular sovereignty, and for an indirect 'ripple' effect which provided an important foundation for the decisive nineteenth-century advance in international law.” –Hamish Scott

Further details are available here.