The Gentle Civilizer of Nations


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Author: Martti Koskenniemi
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Category: Law

International law was born from the impulse to ‘civilize’ late nineteenth-century attitudes towards race and society, argues Martti Koskenniemi in this extensive study of the rise and fall of modern international law. In a work of wide-ranging intellectual scope, now available for the first time in paperback, Koskenniemi traces the emergence of a liberal sensibility relating to international matters in the late nineteenth century, and its subsequent decline after the Second World War. He combines legal analysis, historical and political critique and semi-biographical studies of key figures (including Hans Kelsen, Hersch Lauterpacht, Carl Schmitt and Hans Morgenthau); he also considers the role of crucial institutions (the Institut de droit international, the League of Nations). His discussion of legal and political realism at American law schools ends in a critique of post-1960 ‘instrumentalism’. This book provides a unique reflection on the possibility of critical international law today.

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