16 April 2020

BOOK: Gabriela A. FREI, Great Britain, International Law, and the Evolution of Maritime Strategic Thought, 1856 - 1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020). ISBN 9780198859932, £60.00

(Source: OUP)

Oxford University Press is publishing a book on British state practice and the evolution of international maritime law from the aftermath of the Crimean War to World War I.


Gabriela A. Frei addresses the interaction between international maritime law and maritime strategy in a historical context, arguing that both international law and maritime strategy are based on long-term state interests. Great Britain as the predominant sea power in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries shaped the relationship between international law and maritime strategy like no other power. This study explores how Great Britain used international maritime law as an instrument of foreign policy to protect its strategic and economic interests, and how maritime strategic thought evolved in parallel to the development of international legal norms.

Frei offers an analysis of British state practice as well as an examination of the efforts of the international community to codify international maritime law in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Great Britain as the predominant sea power as well as the world's largest carrier of goods had to balance its interests as both a belligerent and a neutral power. With the growing importance of international law in international politics, the volume examines the role of international lawyers, strategists, and government officials who shaped state practice. Great Britain's neutrality for most of the period between 1856 and 1914 influenced its state practice and its perceptions of a future maritime conflict. Yet, the codification of international maritime law at the Hague and London conferences at the beginning of the twentieth century demanded a reassessment of Great Britain's legal position.


Gabriela A. Frei, Early Career Fellow, TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
Gabriela A. Frei is an Associate Member of the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford and an Early Career Fellow at the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). She holds a DPhil in History and a MSt in Historical Research from the University of Oxford, and she was awarded a degree of Licentiata Philosophiae (history, constitutional law, and English literature) from the University of Bern, Switzerland. She held postdoctoral research positions at the University of Cambridge, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and the University of Oxford. Her research and publications focus on the relationship between international law, maritime strategy, and politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has a particular interest in the role of jurists in international politics, and how law shapes political agendas.


1: The Sea as a Legal and Strategic Space
2: The Making of the Law of Neutrality
3: The Law of Neutrality and State Practice
4: The Codification of International Maritime Law
5: The Hague and London Conferences and the Rise of an International Legal Order
6: Maritime Strategic Thought and International Law
7: International Law and the Theory of War
Conclusion: Sea Power, International Law, and Future Wars

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