'In the General Interest of Peace' -- British International Lawyers and the Spanish Civil War
17 Journal of the History of International Law (2015), Forthcoming
42 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 21, 2015
At the time when the Syrian Civil War has re-ignited the interest of international lawyers for the study of Civil Wars, this article reviews the core issues and different doctrinal positions present in the international legal debates triggered by the Spanish Civil War. It pays particular attention to the contributions of the first two British judges at the International Court of Justice, A. D. McNair (1946-1955) and H. Lauterpacht (1955-1960) to these debates. Their writings can be seen as respectively representative of the two stages through which British international lawyers went in the international legal debates on the Spanish Civil War. Up to early 1938, British International lawyers adopted a characteristically apologetic approach to the policy undertaken by the British Government on the advice of the British Foreign Office. The second stage, from early 1938 to the end of the Spanish Civil War in March 1939, was in turn informed by a “practitioner's approach” to the analysis of the domestic cases brought before the British courts as a result of the hostilities. The article concludes with an analysis of the case for British “benevolent neutrality to the Nationalists” in the Spanish Civil War, reviewing the underlying motives which historians have highlighted as lurking behind the British-led non-intervention policy in the Spanish Civil War.
Keywords: Spanish Civil War; History of International Law; Non-Intervention; British International Lawyers
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