Looking Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Diplomatic Praxis and Legal Culture in the History of Public International Law

Rechtskultur - Zeitschrift für Europäische Rechtsgeschichte/European Journal of Legal History/Journal Européen d'histoire du Droit 2 (2013) (Methode der Rechtsgeschicht)

17 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2013  

Frederik Dhondt

Research Group CORE (Contextual Research in Law); University of Antwerp; Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)/Department of Interdisciplinary Study of Law, Private Law and Business Law - Legal History Institute

Date Written: June 6, 2013

Abstract

Historians of Public International Law traditionnaly start their inquiries in doctrine or look at established source-edition series, focusing mainly on treaties. However, a close reading of diplomatic correspondence can uncover "law in minds" or "the life of the law", and instruct us on the practical use of international legal argument. The present contribution is based on the theoretical and methodological part of my Ph.D.-thesis, which dealt with two cases. On one hand, French and British diplomacy in the early eigtheent century (1713-1740), based on primary archival sources. On the other, French contestation of the bipolar Cold War-order, based on edited French and West German correspondence. In both cases, anti-hegemonic, state-consent based arguments derived from international law from the vector in which third-party adherence is sought. I argue that this model is fundamental to European international relations. Diplomatic legal culture helps us explain how international order can be maintained without institutions. Tackling this issue requires training both in diplomatic history and international law, and considerably enhances our understanding of law's operation in between watershed events or landmark international treaties.

Keywords: legal history, public international law, international relations

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Dhondt, Frederik, Looking Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Diplomatic Praxis and Legal Culture in the History of Public International Law (June 6, 2013). Rechtskultur - Zeitschrift für Europäische Rechtsgeschichte/European Journal of Legal History/Journal Européen d'histoire du Droit 2 (2013) (Methode der Rechtsgeschicht). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2290969

Frederik Dhondt (Contact Author)

Research Group CORE (Contextual Research in Law) ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, Brussels 1050
Belgium
003226291883 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.vub.ac.be/CORE

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, 2000
Belgium
+3232655720 (Phone)

Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)/Department of Interdisciplinary Study of Law, Private Law and Business Law - Legal History Institute ( email )

Universiteitstraat 4
Room 06.02.100.043
Gent, East Flanders 9000
Belgium
003292649713 (Phone)
003292646707 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rechtsgeschiedenis.be

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