Navigation auf


Faculty of Law Lehrstuhl Fiocchi

Spring Semester 2018

Global Narratives on the History of International Law

I. Content of the Seminar

How should the history of international law be written in a global world? To what degree were the European system and the non-European systems interacting in the history of international law?

The seminar will attempt to reconstruct the history of international law, focusing on some prominent topics within the discipline. Among them are colonialism and imperialism, slavery, war and peace, enemies of mankind, civilised and uncivilised States, as well as the history of international arbitration and the peace movements. The aim of the seminar is to underline the global complexity of the history of international law. We will examine the different narratives and perspectives that shaped the discipline.

In the seminar we will analyze the thoughts, events and international practices of the 16th to the 20th century from a legal-historical perspective. We will be accompanied by the eminent professors Luigi Nuzzo and Arnulf Becker-Lorca.


II. Topics

  • Peace and projects for universal peace (18th century)
  • Legal construction of the concept of 'enemies of mankind'
  • Slavery and its abolishment (19th century)
  • Legal-historical construction of the civilized and the uncivilized
  • Berlin Conference and the 'scramble for Africa' (1884-1885)
  • Paris Peace Conference 1919
  • Mercantile associations and the history of international law
  • Europe, China and the unequal treaties (19th-20th centuries)
  • The Hague Peace Conferences (1899-1907)
  • International law and the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (1899)
  • The School of Salamanca (16th-17th centuries)
  • Hugo Grotius and his De iure belli ac pacis (1625)
  • Emer de Vattel and his Le droit des gens (1758)
  • Haiti’s Revolution and its impact on international law (18th-19th centuries)
  • Latin America’s independence and the impact on international law (19th century)
  • Andres Bello and his Principio de derecho de jentes (1832)
  • Francis Lieber and Johann Caspar Bluntschli: humanitarian international law (19th century)
  • The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933)
  • The Ottoman Empire in the history of international law (19th century)
  • North America and the rise of international law (19th-20th century)


III. Introductory Lecture

Wednesday 01 November 2017; 12:15-13:45; Universität Zürich, RWI, Raum E-125.

Detailed information will be given and topics can be discussed at the introductory lecture.


IV. Academic Requirements

Writing a paper and presenting it at the seminar is required. In addition, active participation in the discussions of the papers of the other participants is expected. The oral performance will be factored into the final grade.


V. Place and Time

12-13 March 2018 (Monday and Tuesday).

RWI, University of Zurich; room to be determined.


VI. Proceeding of the Seminar

Each day consists of presentations of student papers and ensuing discussions. The sessions will be introduced by key note speakers (Profs. Becker Lorca and Nuzzo) who also participate in the discussions.


VII. Key Note Speakers

Arnulf Becker-Lorca is Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College and Visiting Faculty at the International Relations Program at Brown University. He received his SJD from Harvard Law School and has taught at King’s College London, Brandeis University and the University of Helsinki. His book, Mestizo International Law: A Global Intellectual History, 1842–1933, published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press, was the winner of the 2016 Book Prize of the European Society of International Law.

Luigi Nuzzo is Professor of Legal History at the Law Faculty of the University of Salento (Lecce). In addition to having received several research grants at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main), he was also Senior Robbins Research Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and Hauser Global Research Fellow at the New York University. He has published extensively on the history of international law, colonial law, the ‘Spanish Indies’ (16th –17th centuries) as well as the German and Italian legal culture between the 19th and 20th centuries.


VIII. Admission

A maximum number of 20 students will be admitted. Students can be at the Bachelor or Master levels. Students from other faculties are also welcome.


IX. Master Thesis

Students have the option to write a Master thesis. A presentation of results and thoughts of the research is expected at the seminar.


X. Application and Registration

Applications must indicate a choice of three (3) topics in order of priority.

Please apply by email and indicate name, address and Matrikelnummer (privacy will be observed).

Final applications are due by 08 November 2017. Topics may be discussed with professor Elisabetta Fiocchi before this date.

Registrations are binding.


XI. Paper Deadline

The final date to submit papers will be three weeks before the seminar.