Impartial or Uninvolved? The Anatomy of 20th Century Doctrine on the Law of Neutrality
Impartial Or Uninvolved?: The Anatomy of 20th Century Doctrine on the Law of Neutrality, ISBN 9789185333172, eddy.se ab, March 2007
1107 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2018
Date Written: 2007
“Neutrality in the twentieth century is an enormous subject, almost coterminous with world politics as a whole”, wrote Roderick Ogley in 1970. Even for someone who has spent a good deal of time during the better part of his grown-up life on that subject, that statement seems preposterous. And yet, that is the presupposition that underlies this thesis (and analogously many other inquiries that treat one issue, but do so on the understanding that the world can only be viewed from a particular viewpoint).
What kind of a phenomenon is neutrality? Is it a piece of reality, or a mode of talking about reality – a discourse? Of course, it may be viewed as both. In fact, the present work proceeds from the assumption that one cannot, for practical purposes, make a distinction between discourse and “reality”, and that is particularly true for human activities like international law and politics. (Several of the authors analysed in this work, however, are of the opposite view). This work focuses on neutrality as a discourse, made up of, and conditioned by, statements. I will try to look at neutrality arguments both as legal arguments – as parts of logical or quasi-logical juridical syllogisms, open to doctrinal analysis – and as texts, which can be read as literary texts, using some of the many interpretative and analytical tools which have been developed for these latter purposes.
The reason for writing about neutrality is that it appears to be an eternal question whether one should engage or not, and the fate of the discourse on the law of neutrality covers much (but not all) of that problem. I had the notion that the dichotomy of involvement vs. indifference is too simplistic, and that there are many nuances that wait to be uncovered (like the potentials of impartiality). Therefore, this is a piece of intellectual history, as it were,2 which tries to recover forgotten meanings in the concept of neutrality. This should have academic interest, and therefore needs no further justification. However, I believe that it also has legal policy, or Rechtspolitisch, significance. But more about that towards the end of the thesis.
In addition to the choice of subject, there is also a need to justify, or at least explain, the length of a book of this size. The task that I set before myself needed the amount of careful analysis that has been put into it, it appeared to me. (Whether the task in itself can be justified is not something that I would like to engage in at this point in time.) My interest was doctrine, and doctrine is a corpus, but it is made up of single texts. I therefore wanted to do close readings of a number of representative and/or seminal texts. Further, I wanted to display my readings as clearly and transparently as possible, to give the reader a chance to actually follow my own line of inquiry, rather than to just accept it.
I have in general not assumed the task of evaluating the texts from a legal-professional point of view, and in particular it has not been my job to evaluate and discuss the legal arguments from a doctrinal perspective (is this the right argument for the right conclusion?). Of course, it has been difficult to refrain from that sometimes, and in most cases where the urge has been too great, I have confined my own doctrinalist comments to footnotes, if necessary marked by my initials PW.
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