Studies in the History of International Law (Brill) since 2016.
Studien zur Geschichte des Völkerrechts (Nomos) since 2015.
Studying the history of international law can help better to understand the character of that particular legal order, its promise and its limits. We seem to live right now in a period of fundamental change of international relations, a process instigated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc of states, and the end of the Cold War. If the history of international law since the sixteenth century has been characterised by a global expansion of Western ideas, and with it of Western domination, many signs today suggest that this history is drawing to a close. To know, in this situation, a bit of the law of nations of the past can help to see the larger picture, and incite informed curiosity about how the history of international law will continue.
This paper asks whether the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917 in Russia has left traces in the current international legal order. Unrelated to the revolutionary ideas or even specifically reacting against them, the international regimes of refugee protection, international labour law, and investment protection were built up and last. In contrast, the concept of a separate system of socialist international law seems not to have survived the breakdown of the socialist block in 1989. However, the mutual interaction between the domestic legal and political systems and the international legal rules governing the states, as postulated by socialist international law, is increasingly acknowledged. The paper argues that practitioners and scholars of international law need to make productive use of the different ideational backgrounds of the participants in the international jurisgenerative processes but should be wary of creating different rules for similarly situated players. The paper then examines the superficial appeal of socialist ideas for tackling the current problems of globalisation, notably extreme social inequality within and across states. It concludes that, due to its reductionist concepts, the Russian revolution and socialist international law mainly provides a negative blueprint for the further evolution of international law. However, it is a reminder of the imperative for addressing global social injustice which has become ever more pressing in times of unfettered globalisation.
"The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law" (Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters, eds) (Oxford 2012). A deep Survey of the history of international law in and across countries and cultures. It goes beyond international legal history as European history and widens the Focus to encompass comparative legal histories and how different international legal traditions encounter and interact with each other. Plus a section of legal biographies. A fascinating and much-needed resource."
2014 ASIL Book Award: Certificate of Merit in a Specialized Area of International Law:
Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters eds., The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law (Oxford University Press 2012).
"The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law innovatively and comprehensively provides a timely and ambitious global history of international law from the sixteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Under the skilled editorship of Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters, the contributors, experts who themselves come from all parts of the world, present a history that imagines international law as the product of different regions, cultures, actors, and eras. Setting a new agenda for the field, the Handbook will be the indispensable starting point for students and researchers exploring the history of international law."
"The Eurocentric story of international law has proven wrong because it is highly incomplete. Not only does it generally blind out the violence, ruthlessness and arrogance which accompanied the dissemination of Western rules, and the destruction of other legal cultures in which that dissemination resulted. Like most other histories, this history of international law was a history of conquerors and victors, not of the victims. Further, the conventional story ignores too many other experiences and forms of legal relations between autonomous communities developed in the course of history. It even discards such extra-European experiences and forms which were discontinued as a result of domination and colonization by European Powers as irrelevant to a (continuing) history of international law. […]
(Extract from Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters, “Introduction: Towards a Global History of International Law”, in: Bardo Fassbender/Anne Peters (eds), Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012), 1-24, internal references omitted)