Groups Contact Information

The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140



First Meeting of the Working Group in Helsinki
Second Meeting of the Working Group in Berlin

Histories of international law often (but not always) date its emergence from the demise of the Holy Roman Empire. Depending on where focus is put, that moment may be situated in Northern Italy in the 14th or late 15th centuries or then in France or Germany in the 16th or 17th centuries. The modern law of nations, according to this narrative, is a law of states, formally independent of any overarching structure and equal in their relations with one another. This narrative leaves, however, wholly unaccounted the way international law has operated to organize and support a world-wide network of colonial relations between Europe and non-European territories and peoples. The conventional narrative also looks away from the way international legal concepts and institutions continue to bear within themselves ideas about "civilization", "progress", "development", "modernity" and "globalization" that embody ambitions about world rule in the 20th and 21st centuries. The history of international law has been profoundly aligned with European expansion. After the end of this process in the 20th century, its concepts and institutions have continued to carry imperial ambitions in the form of international governance under the leadership of benevolent hegemonic actors. International law’s universalist ambitions have time and again turned themselves into or been indistinguishable from ideas about world rule. It is the point of the second part of our project to trace the contours of these ambitions in the history of international law up to and including in the late modern era.

Group Coordinators:

Walter Rech (walter.rech(at), Postdoctoral Researcher
Manuel Jiménez-Fonseca (manuel.jimenezfonseca(at), Doctoral Student

Group Members:

José-Manuel Barreto, Goldsmiths, University of London
Arnulf Becker Lorca, Brown
Lucien Bély, Paris-Sorbonne
Andrew Fitzmaurice, Sydney
Kirsty Gover, Melbourne
Benedict Kingsbury, NYU / Utah
Stefan Kroll, Max Planck Institute
Randall Lesaffer, Tilburg
Ken MacMillan, Calgary
Paul McHugh, Cambridge
Luigi Nuzzo, Lecce
William Pettigrew, University of Kent
Julie Saada, Université d'Artois/Sciences Po
Peter Schröder, UCL
Hatsue Shinohara, Waseda
Benjamin Straumann, NYU
Arthur Weststeijn, Royal Netherlands Institute, Rome
Christian Windler, Berne
Umut Özsu, Manitoba
Leon Castellanos, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Giovanni Mantilla, Princeton