Thursday, January 28, 2021

von Bernstorff, Dann, and others on international law and decolonization

Jochen von Bernstorff (Tubingen Law) and Philipp Dann (Humboldt University Berlin) have co-edited The Battle for International Law: South-North Perspectives on the Decolonization Era, which came out with Cambridge University Press in 2019. From the press: 

This volume provides the first comprehensive analysis of international legal debates between 1955 and 1975 related to the formal decolonization process. It is during this era, couched between classic European imperialism and a new form of US-led Western hegemony, that fundamental legal debates took place over a new international legal order for a decolonised world. The book argues that this era presents in essence a battle, a battle that was fought out in particular over the premises and principles of international law by diplomats, lawyers, and scholars. In a moment of relative weakness of European powers, 'newly independent states' and international lawyers from the South fundamentally challenged traditional Western perceptions of international legal structures engaging in fundamental controversies over a new international law. The legal outcomes of this battle have shaped the world we live in today.

Contributions from a global set of authors cover contemporary debates on concepts central to the time, such as self-determination, sources and concessions, non-intervention, wars of national liberation, multinational corporations, and the law of the sea. They also discuss influential institutions, such as the United Nations, International Court of Justice, and World Bank. The volume also incorporates contemporary regional approaches to international law in the 'decolonization era' and portraits of important scholars from the Global South.

Table of Contents after the jump: 


The Battle for International Law: A Sketch, Jochen von Bernstorff and Philipp Dann

Part I: Sites of Battle

A. Concepts - Kampfbegriffe

1. The Common Heritage of Mankind: Annotations on a Battle, Surabhi Ranganathan

2. The Battle for the Recognition of Wars of National Liberation, Jochen von Bernstorff

3. The Developmental State: Independence, Dependency and the History of the South, Luis Eslava

4. Colonial Fragments: Decolonisation, Concessions and Acquired Rights, Matthew Craven

5. Acquired Rights and State Succession - The Rise and Fall of the Third World in the International Law Commission, Anna Brunner

6. Rival Worlds and the Place of the Corporation in International law, Subhya Pahuja and Anna Saunders

7. The Battle Continues: Rebuilding Empire through Internationalization of State Contracts, Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah

8. (De)colonizing Human Rights, Florian Hoffmann and Bethania Assy

9. Picking Battles: Race, Decolonization, and Apartheid, Rotem Giladi

B. Institutions

10. The International Court of Justice During the Battle for International Law (1955-1975)-Colonial Imprints and Possibilities for Change, Ingo Venzke

11. The Battle and the United Nations, Guy Sinclair

12. The World Bank in the Battles of the 'Decolonization Era', Philipp Dann

Part II Individual Protagonists and Regional Perspectives

A. Individual Protagonists

13. Reading R.P. Anand in the Postcolony: Between Resistance and Appropriation, Prabhakar Singh

14. Taslim Olawale Elias: From British Colonial Law to Modern International Law, Carl Landauer

15. Determining New Selves: Mohammed Bedjaoui on Algeria, Western Sahara, and Post-Classical International Law, Umut Ozsu

16. Charles Chaumont's Third World International Legal Theory, Emamanuelle Tourme Jouannet

B. Regional Perspectives

17. Literal 'Decolonisation': Re-reading African International Legal Scholarship through the African Novel, Christopher Gevers

18. The Soviets and the Right to Self-Determination of the Colonized: Contradictions of Soviet Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in the Era of Decolonization, Bill Bowring

19. The Failed Battle for Self-Determination: The United States and the Postwar Illusion of Enlightened Colonialism, 1945-1975, Olivier Barsalou


What's Law Got to Do with it? Recollections, Impressions, Martti Koskenniemi

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi