Justice among Nations

Justice among Nations

Stephen C. Neff
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 640
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    Justice among Nations
    Book Description:

    Justice amongNationstells the story of the rise of international law and how it has been formulated, debated, contested, and put into practice from ancient times to the present. Stephen Neff avoids technical jargon as he surveys doctrines from natural law to feminism, and practice from the Warring States of China to the international criminal courts of today. Ancient China produced the first rudimentary set of doctrines. But the cornerstone of international law was laid by the Romans, in the form of universal natural law. However, as medieval European states encountered non-Christian peoples from East Asia to the New World, new legal quandaries arose, and by the seventeenth century the first modern theories of international law were devised.New challenges in the nineteenth century encompassed nationalism, free trade, imperialism, international organizations, and arbitration. Innovative doctrines included liberalism, the nationality school, and solidarism. The twentieth century witnessed the League of Nations and a World Court, but also the rise of socialist and fascist states and the advent of the Cold War. Yet the collapse of the Soviet Union brought little respite. As Neff makes clear, further threats to the rule of law today come from environmental pressures, genocide, and terrorism.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72654-3
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    George Washington may not have chopped down a cherry tree, but recent evidence has uncovered a misdeed of a different, and perhaps more serious, character: a failure to return two books borrowed from the New York Society Library in October 1789. Moreover, there is no record of a gallant confession of wrongdoing. By way of mitigation, it must be admitted that Washington was a busy man at the time, having recently been installed as the first president of the United States. When the scandal was exposed (in 2010), the staff at Mount Vernon hastened to make amends by providing replacement...

  5. I Law and Morality Abroad: (to ca. ad 1550)
    • [I Introduction]
      (pp. 5-8)

      In Greek mythology, Chaos was the first of the gods. We have Hesiod’s weighty authority for this, but, in the context of international affairs, we could have guessed it in any event. In the luxuriant pantheons of ancient peoples, we search in vain for a god or goddess of international law. There is no shortage of deities who are devoted to justice, either in a general sense or in specialized areas, such as oaths or contracts. But there was a conspicuous, and apparently universal, absence of gods or goddesses who were guardians of justice between independent nations. If that gap...

    • CHAPTER ONE Doing Justice to Others
      (pp. 9-49)

      The abduction of Helen of Troy was the archetypal example of a wrongful act that led to an outbreak of war. A lawyer might quibble that, strictly speaking, it was not the faceitselfthat “launched a thousand ships,” but rather the unlawful taking. In any event, though, the thrilling tale belongs (alas) to legend and not to history. More firmly in the realm of fact—if less resplendent as literature—was an event in the late fifth century bc, related by the Roman historian Livy. It was a period of Roman history (long before there was a Roman Empire)...

    • CHAPTER TWO Keeping Kings in Check
      (pp. 50-91)

      A remarkable scene took place in the city of Lyon, in France, on July 17, 1245. A council of the Catholic Church was in session, at which Pope Innocent IV recited a lengthy catalogue of charges of misconduct against Emperor Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire. They included heresy, the seizure of papal lands in Sicily, various acts of oppression against the church, and the employment of Muslims as soldiers—as well as keeping a harem of Muslim concubines, guarded by eunuchs. Pope Innocent then immediately proclaimed Frederick’s deposition as emperor. He was declared to be stripped of all...

    • CHAPTER THREE New Worlds and Their Challenges
      (pp. 92-136)

      One day in 1534, the Dominican monastery of San Esteban in Salamanca played host to a notably interesting guest. This was a cleric named Vicente de Valverde, who regaled his clerical hosts with stories of his recent travels—which were, by any standard, riveting. Valverde had served as chaplain to a Spanish adventurer named Francisco Pizarro, and in that role had been at Pizarro’s side in the conquest of Peru. He told tales of the wondrous riches that had been amassed, although it is not possible to say how candid he was about some of the methods used by his...

  6. II Reason and Its Rivals: (ca. 1550–1815)
    • [II Introduction]
      (pp. 137-142)

      The peace negotiations for the Thirty Years War, which took place in two towns in Westphalia (Osnabrück and Münster), were a major political showcase. They were not a rushed affair. Talks were originally to have begun in 1642, but haggling over matters of etiquette and precedence of the delegates kept things from getting under way for some two years. What the proceedings lacked in urgency, however, they made up for (at least partly) in style. One ambassador’s train of attendants was so extensive that it is said to have taken a full hour to pass by any given spot.¹


    • CHAPTER FOUR Putting Nature and Nations Asunder
      (pp. 143-178)

      It was traditionally supposed that Alexander the Great traveled with a copy of Homer’sIliadconstantly to hand, and that he even slept with it under his pillow. A similar story arose of the energetic Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus, the most fearsome commander of the Thirty Years War in Europe (1618–48). His reputed choice of reading material was a ponderous legal tome entitledOn the Law of War and Peace(1625), written by Hugo Grotius.¹ Of the two generals, Alexander certainly had the advantage from the literary standpoint. Grotius’s work was a densely learned treatise, heavily weighed down with...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Of Spiders and Bees
      (pp. 179-214)

      Francis Bacon, the English lawyer, philosopher, and essayist, had a delightful way with words (even if he did not pen the plays of Shakespeare). Writing in 1620, he illustrated three contrasting ways of approaching intellectual challenges by invoking the rival methods of the spider, the ant, and the bee. The spider represented speculative thought, in which a writer spins out ideas from within his own mind, in the manner of a spider spinning out silk from its own glands. The ant represented mere mechanical conduct, the mindless piling up of facts without any theoretical guidance, like the ants piling up...

  7. III A Positive Century: (1815–1914)
    • [III Introduction]
      (pp. 215-220)

      At the beginning and the ending points of the (postrevolutionary) nineteenth century, the world was treated to two highly contrasting spectacles in international relations. In 1814–15, the victorious powers in the recent French Revolutionary Wars convened in Vienna. At the opposite end of the century, in 1899, delegates from twenty-six states met in The Hague for a peace conference of a very different sort. These two gatherings presented contrasts in a number of instructive ways. In terms of stylishness, there was no comparison. The Congress of Vienna was a gathering of the fashionable and festive, as well as of...

    • CHAPTER SIX Breaking with the Past
      (pp. 221-259)

      By 1814–15, French revolutionaries and their grand principles were in very bad odor—at least in the eyes of the governments of the allied states that had defeated revolutionary (and imperial) France, after more than twenty arduous years of war. Among the products of the revolution that the victorious powers were determined to bury were appeals to natural rights against established authority. It had become all too apparent how much damage could be done by persons whom the British politician and polemicist Edmund Burke derided as “speculatists,” with their grandiose plans for the wholesale replacement of a corrupt present...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Dissident Voices
      (pp. 260-297)

      Even at its highest tide, mainstream positivism did not have a monopoly over international legal thought. In fact, the nineteenth century was rich in heterodoxical perspectives on international law—views that, in some cases, would gain greatly in force during the following century. One of these dissident schools of thought was the natural-law tradition, a hardy perennial that managed to survive even in the inauspicious climate of positivism. In addition, three other principal dissident approaches arose in the nineteenth century, or at least came into prominence for the first time. These were liberalism, the nationality school, and solidarism (or the...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT In Full Flower
      (pp. 298-340)

      By the early years of the twentieth century, it was difficult not to be impressed by the significant role that law now played in affairs between states. In the first half of 1871 alone, three events took place that, in combination, provide a striking illustration of three different facets of the state of international law at the time: dispute resolution, lawmaking, and enforcement.

      The first event, in January of that year, concerned a dispute sparked by the Russian government. The previous autumn, it had taken advantage of Europe’s focus on the Franco-Prussian War to declare itself absolved from certain arrangements...

  8. IV Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: (1914–)
    • [IV Introduction]
      (pp. 341-344)

      In 1933, the English author and public intellectual H. G. Wells penned a futurological novel—actually more of a political tract—entitledThe Shape of Things to Come. It provided a vision of what the international scene would be like in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The world was envisaged to be united into what was called, somewhat blandly, the Modern State, inaugurated in 1965 at a conference in Basra, Iraq. The impetus for the founding was a cataclysmic war that was predicted to begin in Europe in 1940 and to be sparked by a conflict between Poland...

    • CHAPTER NINE Dreams Born and Shattered
      (pp. 345-394)

      In 1923, the world was treated to a vivid demonstration of two contrasting ways of enforcing international law. They could be called the old way and the new. In both cases, the state of Germany played an unwilling starring role, as an accused lawbreaker, with the Treaty of Versailles providing the relevant law in both affairs. In both, France stood in the accusatory role (with company). There were some differences, too. One of the cases is famous, and the other virtually unknown (at least to nonlawyers). In one of them, the legal element was extremely obvious, and in the other...

    • CHAPTER TEN Building Anew
      (pp. 395-438)

      One of the more colorful salutes to the rule of law in international affairs appeared in the February 7, 1940, issue ofLookmagazine in the United States.¹ Superman, the famous comic book action hero, is shown valiantly capturing both Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. As he flies through the air with the two rulers (literally) in hand, a terrified Hitler inquires anxiously of their fate. “Next stop—Geneva, Switzerland,” announces the Man of Steel. As good as his word, Superman delivers his captives to the League of Nations. There, a judicial-looking figure (i.e., an aged white man in black...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Shadows across the Path
      (pp. 439-480)

      On May 27, 1999, President Slobodan Milošević of Serbia (technically, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) was accorded a very dubious honor. He became the first sitting head of state to be indicted for crimes by an international tribunal. Along with four other top officials (including the prime minister and the military chief of staff), he was alleged to have instigated crimes against humanity and war crimes. More specifically, he was accused of responsibility for the massacre of forty-five persons in the town of Račak, in the rebellious province of Kosovo. The immediate effect of the indictment was not great, since...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 481-484)

    It would be pleasing to report, by way of rapid summation, that the history of international law has been a steady forward march, a progressive colonization of hitherto barbaric and anarchic lands by valiant pilgrims of the Rule of Law, shining ever brighter light into the hitherto dark corners of international practices. Sadly, that is a difficult case to make. It may even be wondered whether, in fundamental conceptual terms, there has been any advance at all since the most ancient days of which we have records. It was observed that so-called international law in those earliest times consisted of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 485-560)
  11. Bibliographic Essay
    (pp. 561-602)
  12. Index
    (pp. 603-628)