24 June 2020

JOURNAL: Special Issue "Le concept de civilisation en droit colonial belge" (Revue interdisciplinaire d'études juridiques LXXXIII (2019), no. 2

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De l’épistémologie de la théorie du droit (Pierre Moor)
We cannot approach legal theory without first answering two questions : First, what do we mean by « law ». And second, what, in light of this understanding, are the appropriate theoretical instruments for its analysis ? As regards the first question, the legal phenomenon should be understood as it operates in reality : that is to say, as a system constituted by a set of texts, the most important being normative, which are produced by a set of actors – those being lawyers and people who work with them. It is the functioning of this complex system that legal theory must explain. The answer to the second question - the appropriate theoretical instruments-derives from this analysis. The instruments will be drawn, on the one hand, from semiology, insofar as the law is unthinkable without considering its textual and therefore linguistic dimension : defining the semiotic status of the signs that form the normative texts is therefore necessary to understand the relationship between the norms and their object. On the other hand, the contemporary theory of systems allows us to grasp the texture of internal relations between the legal actors, a differentiated texture that gives law its autoreferential character, while also bringing to light the modalities of its relation with its social environment. In sum, the point of view could be said to be external, since it does not use legal concepts, but, to the contrary, treats such concepts as the object of analysis ; and legal theory, not being a legal discipline, is an element of the sociology of law.
 Introduction. Nations civilisées, mission civilisatrice, droit de civilisation (Pierre-Olivier de Broux)
First paragraph:
Le concept de civilisation est au cœur du présent dossier, consacré au concept de civilisation en droit colonial belge. Ce concept est à la fois particulièrement ancien mais aussi très déprécié aujourd’hui, précisément à cause des usages qui en ont été faits aux XIXe et XXe siècles. Sa présence dans le droit colonial belge ne doit rien au hasard : la mission civilisatrice dont s’est prévalu Léopold II s’inscrit dans un contexte historique et juridique qui balise pour une bonne part la référence au concept de civilisation. C’est ce contexte – surtout issu de la sphère internationale – qui est brièvement brossé dans la présente introduction, synthétisant la littérature critique abondante récemment parue à ce sujet.
 « Le Congo était fondé dans l’intérêt de la civilisation et de la Belgique ». La notion de civilisation dans la Charte coloniale (Pierre-Olivier de Broux & Bérengère Piret)
Belgium’s “civilizing mission” in its African colonial territories is at the heart of colonial rhetoric. The leitmotif of overseas action since the foundation of the Congo Free State in 1885 and a prelude to most European colonization efforts in Africa in the 19th century. The Belgian colonial vocabulary did not hesitate to use it. However, its legal and administrative translation still seems to be poorly studied. The main ambition of this contribution is therefore to question this “civilizing mission” on the basis of the colonial charter. More precisely, this article aims to identify the meaning of the notion of civilization as used by the colonial authorities when the Congo was taken over by Belgium and to identify the legal instruments by which the “civilizing mission” must be implemented there.
 Civiliser les « indigènes » par le droit. Antoine Sohier et les revues juridiques coloniales (1925-1960) (Romain Landmeters & Nathalie Tousignant)
The idea of civilizing the population of Congo is concomitant with the Belgian colonial enterprise from the very beginning. This conception has been inherent in the imperial imagination since the end of the 19th century. With the takeover of Congo by Belgium in 1908, the civilization effort of the Congo Free State (CFS) became the common denominator of the Belgian government, of the world of industry and commerce as well as missionaries. At the crossroads of these three pillars of Belgian-style colonialism, the colonial judiciary also contributes to the civilizing mission. Through the analysis of textual data of three colonial legal journals, this contribution explores the uses of the terms civilize/civilization/civilized by contributors, including the main one, magistrate Antoine Sohier. This analysis highlights the construction of a consensus around a single Civilization, an objective to be achieved by the Congolese populations adhering to the values promoted by the civilizing mission/action claimed by the Belgian colonial project.
 La notion de civilisation en droit colonial belge postérieur à la Seconde Guerre mondiale et en droit congolais postérieur à l’indépendance (Wenceslas Busane Ruhana Mirindi)
Belgian colonial law has organised institutions and forged rules for the implementation of the civilizing mission, the main objective of the colonial enterprise. This contribution focuses on the evolution of the notion of civilization in the post-World War II period, during which the end of colonization took place. During this period, colonial law was characterised by a conception of civilization that was clearly European-centred and inherited from the 19th century. Nevertheless, there is a decrease in the intensity of the affirmation of the civilizing mission. Congolese post-independence law, on the other hand, shows the quest for an authentic civilization. It reflects a tension between the instrumentalization of autocratic power and the opening towards the values of universal civilization.
Lancement du nouveau thème du SIEJ (Jérémie Van Meerbeeck)

L’homme augmenté : quelle dignité humaine pour encadrer les progrès de la génétique ? (Jean-Aymeric Marot)
The notion of « human dignity » is ambivalent, susceptible to be brought up both to uphold the highest principles of protection of our species as a whole or to support the growing affirmation of the power of individuals’ self-determination over their own bodies. Today, at a time when the mysteries of the human genome are slowly unveiled, the use of human enhancement technologies comes in the wake of this autonomist trend but raises new fears as to the preservation of genetic heritage, the determination of the best interests of the child or the right to privacy. In these respects, involvement of public authorities will be required to ensure the safeguarding of the most fundamental values on which our society is built.
Book reviews:

  • J. Gaakeer, Judging from experience. Law, praxis, humanities, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 307 p. (François Ost)
  • A. Somek, The Legal Relation : Legal Theory after Legal Positivism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, 220 p. (Aristel Skrbic)
  • Th. Berns et J. Lafosse (dir.), Guerre juste et droit des gens moderne, Bruxelles, Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2017, 208 p. (Louis Triaille)
  • F. Ost, Si le droit m’était conté…, Paris, Dalloz, 2019, 214 p. (Xavier Dijon)
  • A. Flückiger, (Re)faire la loi. Traité de légistique à l’ère du droit souple, Berne, Stämpfli, 2019, 761 p. (Norman Vander Putten)
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