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Faculty of Law Lehrstuhl Fiocchi

Juristische Zeitgeschichte / Contemporary History of Law

Special focus for the Spring Semester 2020: Building a peaceful community of Nations

League of Nations first assembly
League of Nations - First General Assembly on 15 November 1920


Podcast is available on OLAT



Spring Semester, Wednesday 12:15-13:45 (from 19.02.2020 to 27.05.2020)

No lesson due to the Easter holiday: 15 April 2020


Guest lecture

Lesson of 4 March 2020

"Permanent is not Eternal: The Life and Death of Belgian Imposed Neutrality, 1830-1919",  Prof. Dr. Frederik Dhondt (Vrije Universiteit Brussel/Antwerp University)


Language of the course






Office hours for students

Every Wednesday from 10:00 to 12:00 (room RAI-H-097)

No office hours during the Easter break

Students who cannot come during office hours can write an email for an alternative appointment or they can call prof. Dr. Fiocchi Malaspina on 044 634 30 49. A Skype call is also available, please contact directly


Previous knowledge expected from students

Basic knowledge on legal history (level of BLaw UZH).


Content of the course

The Paris Peace Conference convened on the 18th of January 1919, two months after the end of the First World War (1914-1918), and set the new legal order of that time. One of the results of the Conference was the establishment of the League of Nations with the aim to prevent war, maintain peace and develop international cooperation in the economic and political sphere. The League of Nations was officially inaugurated on the 10th of January 1920 in London. The headquarter was then moved to Geneva, where on the 15th November 1920 the first General Assembly took place at the Wilson Palace.

The special focus of this semester’s course is on the analysis of the creation of the international legal order, focusing on the universal attempts and efforts for the construction of a peaceful world society in a legal historical perspective.

The course particularly draws attention towards the time from the 16th to the 20th century, scrutinizing the general theories of the modern state and the creation of the international law system. The complex and contradictory relations between violence and law, war and law, race and law, the economy and law and finally the (in)equality of men under the law will be addressed. The course will outline the legal consequences of these aforementioned entanglements, interactions and collisions and will subsequently analyse how these consequences relate to the nature and construction of the social order from a historical perspective.

Reading of primary sources combined together with a critical reconstruction of law and examining the works of jurists in their historical context will form part of the course.

Aim of the course and learning outcomes

After the successful completion of this course students are able to understand the social and cultural mechanisms of law in their historical contexts; to comprehend and critically explicate the ways in which law structures state systems and operates within international systems and therefore; to understand, discuss and explain how some concepts become «legal», and to analyse their fundamental influence on the social order from a historical perspective.



Sources and related materials will be distributed during the lessons and uploaded together with the slides. Please find slides and related material on OLAT