History as a Legal Argument – The Naulilaa Case (1928)

Book Cover Zollmann "Naulila 1914" The question about the historical relation between international law and colonialism (and its legacy) has grown in relevance over the last twenty-odd years. Critical scholars speak of international law’s “complete complicity with the colonial project” – meaning the exploitation and domination of the global south. They point to the ‘dark side’ of the promises of ‘order’, ‘equality’, and ‘(world) peace’ inherent in the enlightened idea of the ius gentium europaeum.

It is important to point out that nineteenth-century contemporaries were already well aware of the relation between international law and colonialism but they did not look at it from a moral perspective. Continue reading

World Peace through Law as the Grand Solution? On the History of Nineteenth Century Interstate Arbitration

Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace (1795) might still be the most renowned philosophical voice that outlines – with mild irony – the relevance of the law (of nations) for “World Peace”. Borrowing from Kant’s insight that “war … is only the sad recourse in the state of nature (where there is no tribunal which could judge with the force of law)” (Sixth Preliminary Article), the nineteenth century saw an increasing number of successful attempts by scholars, politicians, and peace activists to put into practice third-party tribunals which arbitrated disputes between states by drawing on international law. Continue reading