Imperial Colonialism in the Genesis of International Law – Anomaly or Time of Transition?
23 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2016 Last revised: 13 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 3, 2016
Drawing on the works of Alexandrowicz and Grewe this paper intends to shed some light on the role played by colonialism in the genesis of present international law. The central question is whether the international law of the imperial era (which culminated in the late 19th century) must be regarded an anomaly in the evolution of international relations, a temporary “accident” that was eventually overcome by the formation of an universal community of States half a decade later or whether colonialism, right on the contrary, has to be seen as a time of transition thanks to which an until thence regional order, referred to as the Ius Publicum Europaeum, and later as the Droit public de l’Europe, evolved to a universal one. Alexandrowicz’ and Grewe’s answers to these questions appear to be diametrically opposed. Even more important than to assert who of them proved to be right is to understand why these scholars arrived at such conflicting conclusions, which is the focus of this contribution.
Keywords: colonialism, post-colonialism, international law, history of international law, global history, Ius Publicum Europeum, intercivilizational perspective, Eurocentricism of international law
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