29 February 2024

BOOK: Ignacio DE LA RASILLA & Congyan CAI (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of China and International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2024), ISBN 9781316517406, 150 GBP


(image source: CUP)


This handbook provides a comprehensive road map to China's engagement with international law and an upgraded bridge between Chinese and Western approaches in times of turmoil. Written by a leading group of Chinese and Western specialists, it examines how China is assimilating into, and putting its stamp on, the global legal order. It offers updated analyses of China's relationship with international institutions, human rights law, international trade law, the law of the sea, the laws of peace and war, international criminal law, global health law, international investment law, international environmental law, climate change, international terrorism law, outer-space law, intellectual property law, cyber-space warfare, international financial law, international dispute settlement, territorial disputes, the Belt and Road Initiative, the Community of Shared Future for Mankind, China's constitutional law, the judicial application of international law, state immunity, the international rule of law, China's treaty practices and the extraterritorial application of Chinese laws.

On the editors:

Ignacio de la Rasilla holds the Han Depei Chair and is a One Thousand Talents Plan Professor at the Wuhan University Institute of International Law and Wuhan Academy of International Law and Global Governance in China. He is the author or editor of six books including International Law and History, Modern Interfaces (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Congyan Cai is a professor of international law in the School of Law and an adjunct professor at School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University. He is the author of The Rise of China and International Law, Taking Chinese Exceptionalism Seriously (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Table of contents:

Introduction: China and international law – not a map but perhaps a compass Ignacio de la Rasilla and Congyan Cai
Part I. Taking Centre Stage In Global Governance and the International Legal Order:
1.China's reform and opening-up and its move to international institutions Yun Zhao
2. The belt and road initiative and the international legal order: why it happened, what it does and how, and what it brings about Congyan Cai
3. The Community of shared future for mankind and international law Ignacio de la Rasilla and Yayezi Hao
Part II. Interfaces between National and International Law:
4. The constitution of China and international law: from selective adaptation to normative consensus Chao Wang and Xin Xiang
5. Chinese and Western perspectives on the rule of law and its international implications Karen J. Alter and Ji Li
6. International law in Chinese courts Björn Ahl
Part III. Selected areas of Chinese state practice:
7. China's treaty practices: politicization of law or legalization of politics? Carrie Shang Shu and Wei Shen
8. The solid state of state immunity in the People's Republic of China Timothy Webster
9. The 'effect doctrine' and the extraterritorial application of Chinese national laws: it's easier said than done Yongping Xiao and Lei Zhu
Part IV. International Peace and Security:
10. The Chinese approach to the jus ad bellum in International law and cyber-warfare Zhixiong Huang and Yaohui Ying
11. China and international terrorism law Congyan Cai and Yifei Wang
12. China and international criminal law: a dual-identity dilemma Dan Zhu
Part V. Human-Centred International Law:
13. China and international human rights law Ruijun Dai
14. China and global health law in the face of COVID-19 Qingjiang Kong and Shuai Guo
15. China and international humanitarian law Binxin Zhang
Part VI. The Habitat And The Global Commons:
16. China and international environmental law: sageliness within and kingliness without? Nengye Liu
17. China and global climate change law governance: a unison of top-down governance and multi-stakeholder engagement approach Tianbao Qin and Bingyu Liu
18. China and the law of the sea Haiwen Zhang
19. China and the non-weaponization of outer space: towards a relational normativity Matthias Vanhullebusch
Part VII. International Economic Law:
20. China and International trade law: rising from within the system or always an outlier? Jiangyu Wang
21. China: an emerging rule-maker in international investment law? Freya Baetens and Sheng Zhang
22. China and international intellectual property law: striving to become a respected player Jianqiang Nie
23. Chinese Multilateralism in international financial law Bin Gu
Part VIII. International Dispute Settlement:
24. China and international dispute settlement by adjudicative and other means Ignacio de la Rasilla and Yayezi Hao

25. China and the settlement of territorial disputes Xinjun Zhang and Xidi Chen.

Read more here

28 February 2024

VACANCY: Part-time position (15%) as a professor at the Research Unit of Roman Law and Legal History, KU Leuven (Brussels Campus) [Dutch required] [DEADLINE 14/3/2024]

(Source: KU Leuven)

The Faculty of Law and Criminology of the Humanities and Social Sciences Group of KU Leuven has a vacancy for a part-time position (15%) as a professor at the Research Unit of Roman Law and Legal History. The position involves teaching at an academic level, scientific research and additional tasks of an academic nature, including service tasks. 

As a professor, you will develop a broad research programme with a focus on Roman private law and/or private law in the tradition of ius commune, partly in collaboration with professors and staff with extensive expertise in neighbouring research areas. The teaching assignment to be performed involves primarily teaching the course 'Romeins Recht' (in Dutch) to 1st year students at the campus of KU Leuven in Brussels, taught in parallel with the course 'Geschiedenis van het Publiekrecht'. Because the successful candidate will have to take up different teaching assignments in Dutch soon after appointment, he/she is required to have mastery of Dutch at CEFR level C1 at the time of appointment. 

The full vacancy announcement can be found via:

Deadline: 14/3/2024

Should you have questions about the position, you can contact:

- Prof. Dr. Wouter Devroe, Dean Faculty of Law and Criminology, 

- Prof. Dr. Wouter Druwé, Chair a.i. of the Roman Law and Legal History Research Unit,

DATABASE: Arca. Bibliothèque numérique de l’IRHT (IRHT-CNRS)

Arca est à la fois la bibliothèque numérique de l’IRHT (Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) et le répertoire des cotes de manuscrits, incunables et livres anciens conservés dans les bibliothèques du monde entier.
Arca, nouvelle base, résultant de la fusion des deux bases historiques de l'IRHT (BVMM et Medium) et destinée à les remplacer, permet désormais de consulter dans une interface unifiée les informations autour des cotes des manuscrits, de leurs reproductions mais également de leurs numérisations. L'accès s'effectue via un moteur de recherche qui se veut simple mais rapide et efficace, et les notices de manuscrits synthétisent les métadonnées et les reproductions disponibles. Les numérisations sont consultables et exploitables grâce au protocole IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework).

La présentation complète du nouveau projet et le lien pour accéder à la base de données peuvent être trouvés ici.

27 February 2024

CALL FOR PAPERS: Conference: Transitional Justice in the Early Modern World (Groningen: University of Groningen, 3–5 APR 2025); DEADLINE 15 MAY 2024


(image source: histj)


How to reconcile former enemies in the wake of civil conflict and prevent a return to violence? Transitional justice, defined by the United Nations as ‘the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempts to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, in order to ensure accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation’, has become a ubiquitous concept for understanding peacebuilding in the modern world. Transitional justice mechanisms typically include prosecution, reparations, restitution, amnesty, the purging of state officials, truth and reconciliation commissions, and communal remembrance. Most scholarship has focused on recent theaters of conflict, such as the former Yugoslavia, South Africa, and countries affected by the Arab Spring.

Mechanisms associated with transitional justice have a much older history, however, stretching at least as far back as the early modern period. Because the Reformation had split Christendom into competing Protestant and Catholic communities, early modern Europe experienced civil conflict on an unprecedented scale – yet the Wars of Religion at the same time forced societies to develop new peacebuilding strategies. Healing the scars of civil conflict also became a key objective after the Atlantic revolutions, as political opponents had to be reintegrated into the emerging nation state. Nor were peacebuilding efforts exclusive to Europe: post-war societies in Asia and Africa also relied on formal strategies to reconcile former opponents. The Tokugawa Shoguns had to contend with how to make peace after the wars of the Warring States Era, while King Pedro IV Nusamu a Mvemba had to find a way to make peace after four decades of civil war had ravaged the Kingdom of the Kongo, to name but two examples. This conference thus approaches the early modern period as a particularly productive field for the wider study of peacebuilding and transitional justice. How exactly did post-war societies before the modern age deal with the challenge of peacebuilding? What particular transitional justice strategies did they develop? And how effective were they in achieving peace and reconciliation, either on a local or national level? As such, this conference aims to evaluate how the study of transitional justice can reshape our understanding of the early modern world – not just as a period of incessant conflict, but also a laboratory for peacebuilding efforts.


We welcome proposals covering any aspect of peacebuilding and transitional justice in the early modern world, both in Europe and beyond. PhDs and early career researchers are especially encouraged to submit; we have funding available to help cover their transport and accommodation. All proposals should include a brief CV and an abstract of no more than 300 words. Please submit your documents by email before 15 May 2024 to Applicants shall be informed by 17 June 2024. It is our intention to publish a selection of the conference papers. 

Read more here

ARTICLE: Richard C. SCHLAG, "The Imperial Court and the Localities during the Reign of Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich III" (German History XLII (2024), nr. 1 (Mar), 1-19) (OPEN ACCESS)


(image source: OUP)


The centrality of the territorial principalities and imperial diet is a defining feature of the historiography of the late medieval Holy Roman Empire. This tendency risks restricting discussions of the Reich’s political life to the arena of high politics and obscuring important links and relationships between the imperial monarchy and its non-princely subjects. This article sets out to examine interactions between the late medieval imperial government and its subjects in the localities. The analysis focuses on the court and government of Emperor Friedrich III of Habsburg (r. 1440–1493), whose ‘peripheral kingship’ has been interpreted by historians as the moment of the crown’s definitive alienation from the Empire’s core lands. The article presents two case studies of protracted legal disputes in which communities of different size, importance and location came into the orbit of the emperor’s court seeking to protect their rights and interests. These case studies provide illustrative examples of how routine matters and local conflicts could be inextricably bound up in the structures of the emperor’s government. This evidence suggests that a complete account of the political and governmental history of the late medieval Holy Roman Empire needs to incorporate both new insights about the effectiveness of the imperial monarchy and the complex, multi-layered and interdependent nature of local politics.

Read the full article here:  DOI 10.1093/gerhis/ghad070.

BOOK: Peter COLLIN, Agustín CASAGRANDE (eds.), Law and Diversity: European and Latin American Experiences from a Legal Historical Perspective. Vol. 1: Fundamental Questions (Frankfurt am Main: Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie, 2023). ISBN: 9783944773407 [OPEN ACCESS]


Eine Grundfeste der Rechtssysteme der modernen Gesellschaft ist der Gleichheitsgrundsatz: Modernes Recht ist gleichheitsbasiert. Damit wird ein scharfer Trennungsstrich zum Recht der ständischen Gesellschaft mit ihren Sonderrechtsregimen für bestimmte Gruppen und Personen gezogen. Doch lässt sich diese strikte Gegenüberstellung nur dann durchhalten, wenn man lediglich auf die fundamentalen Postulate und die großen Kodifikationen mit ihren gleichheitsorientierten Systembildungen blickt? Auch die „Moderne“ ist sozial hoch ausdifferenziert und tradiert bzw. transformiert in einem nicht unerheblichen Maße „vormoderne“ Unterscheidungen. All dies bildet sich oft ab in Sonderrecht, das vom Staat oder den Gruppen selbst – wenn auch in diesem Fall oft nicht als Recht anerkannt – geschaffen wird.

Konstellationen normativ relevanter sozialer Differenz sollen mit dem Begriff „Diversität“ umschrieben werden. Das dabei zugrunde gelegte Diversitätsverständnis weist nur Teilüberschneidungen mit den Kategorien postmoderner Diversitätsdiskurse auf. Vielmehr wird die Grundfrage ins Zentrum gestellt: Welche sozialen Unterschiede sind in welchem Maße und in welcher Hinsicht relevant – oder, um es konkreter auf das Verhältnis von Recht und Diversität zu beziehen: Welche sozialen Unterschiede machen auch einen Unterschied für das Recht aus?

Eine erweiterte Perspektive auf dieses Problemfeld gewinnt man durch die vergleichende Betrachtung von europäischen und außereuropäischen Entwicklungen. Dabei erweist sich Lateinamerika als besonders wichtiges Untersuchungsfeld. Einerseits fand eine Translation europäischer Rechtstraditionen schon in kolonialer Zeit statt und nach der Unabhängigkeit war das lateinamerikanische Streben nach Modernität oft durch den Rückgriff auf europäische Rechtsideen und Regelungsmodelle geprägt. Andererseits blieb das Erbe der kolonialen Vergangenheit weiter prägend und die soziale Differenzierung, auf die das Recht reagieren musste, wies zu einem Gutteil andere Züge auf als in den europäischen Gesellschaften.

Damit sich der Ertrag des Zusammenführens europäischer und lateinamerikanischer Perspektiven nicht lediglich auf eine Aneinanderreihung verschiedener Beiträge beschränkt, wurde folgender Weg gewählt: Einem Hauptbeitrag, der sich auf die Entwicklung einer bestimmten nationalen Rechtsordnung bezieht, werden Kommentare aus anderen nationalen Rechtsordnungen zur Seite gestellt, die einerseits  ihre nationalen Entwicklung skizzieren und andererseits Bezug auf die Ausführungen des Hauptbeitrags nehmen, um so Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten deutlich zu machen. Europäische und lateinamerikanische Autoren wechseln sich dabei ab. Der zeitliche Rahmen sind die letzten 200 Jahre.   

In Band 1 beschäftigen sich die Autoren mit Grundfragen von Recht und Diversität. Weitere Bände zum öffentlichen Recht, zum Privatrecht und zum Strafrecht werden folgen.


  • Introduction

First Part: Thinking on Diversity and Law

Section I: National Traditions of Social Theoretical Contouring of Social Differences

  • Social Differentiation, Inequality, and Diversity in the Sociological Theory of Law – An Outline of the German Debate (Alfons Bora)
  • Comment: Law, Diversity and Sociological Imagination in Argentina (20th–21st Centuries) (Augustín Casagrande)

Section II: Traditions of Pluralistic Legal Thinking

  • Traditions of Pluralistic Legal Thought: The Example of Germany (Ralf Seinecke)
  • Comment: Monist or Pluralist Legal Tradition in 19th-Century Peru? (Armando Guvara Gil)
  • Comment: Pluralistic Legal Thought in Chile: A Critical Overview (Rodrigo Míguez Núñez)

Second Part: Tendencies

Section I: Diversity and Nation-building

  • National Identity through Diversity – Brazilian Nation Building Ideas and Theories, 1920–1948 (and their Aftermath) (Pedro Henrique Ribeiro)
  • Comment: The Tower of Babelgium. The Never-ending Belgian Nation-building (Bruno Debaenst)
  • Comment: The “cuestión foral”: Legal Diversity and Nation-building in Spain (Alfons Aragoneses)
  • Comment: Diversity and Nation Building in the Periphery: Some Thoughts from Argentina (Ezequiel Adamovsky)

Section II: Legal Lines of Development of Discrimination and Anti-Discrimination

  • Discrimination: On the Constitutional History of a Fundamental Concept – a Chilean Perspective (Fernando Muñoz)
  • Comment: The Different Meanings of Discrimination from a Czech Perspective (Barbara Havelková)

Section III: Anthropological Approaches

  • Juridification and the Indigenous Peoples in Brazil: The Ambivalence of a Complex Process (Orlando Villas Bôas Filho)
  • Comment: Racial Thinking and Ethnic Minorities in Latin America (Eduardo Zimmermann)
  • Comment: The Juridification of Indigenous Claims in Latin America: Obstacles and Challenges (Nancy Yáñez Fuenzalida)

Third Part: Legal Frameworks

Section I: The Constitutional Embedding of Differences

  • The Constitutional Embedding of Differences: Chile (1810–1980) (Manuel Bastias Saavedra)
  • Comment: The Constitutional Embedding of Differences, 1921–1997: The Polish Example (Agnieszka Bień-Kacała and Anna Tarnowska)

Section II: System and Codification – Exclusion or Inclusion of Special Law?

  • The Limits of Equality: Special Law in the Age of Legal Monism in Italy (19th–20th Centuries) (Massimo Meccarelli)
  • System and Codification – Exclusion or Inclusion of Special Law? A German Perspective (Carsten Fischer and Hans-Peter Haferkamp)
  • Comment: A French Perspective about the Limits of Equality in 19th–20th Centuries Law (Jean-Louis Halpérin)
  • Comment: Diversity, Codification and Political Representation: Comments from the Brazilian Perspective (Thiago Reis)

Section III: Autonomy

  • German Discourses on Autonomy from the Beginning of the 19th Century Until Today (Peter Collin)
  • Comment: Construction and De-construction of Legal Identity: Different Notions of Autonomy in Italian Legal Thought (19th–20th Centuries) (Michele Pifferi)
  • Comment: Autonomy, Subjectivity and Diversity: Genesis and Logic of a Juridical-political Concept in Argentina (19th–20th Centuries) (Agustín Casagrande)

Section IV: Legal Person and Legal Personality

  • Mask of Legal Subjectivity: Equality and Difference within Personal Regimes in Brazil (1824–1988) (Samuel Barbosa)
  • Comment: The Theory and Ethics of the Person in Law: The German Perspective (Stephan Kirste)
  • Comment: Legal Person and Legal Personality: A View from English Legal History (Victoria Barnes)

Section V: Linguistic Diversity and the Language of Law

  • Linguistic Diversity and the Language of State Law in Colombia, 1819–2019 (Gloria Patricia Lopera-Mesa)
  • Comment: Austria-Cisleithania – a Non-nation Multi-ethnic State and its Language Policy (Thomas Simon)
  • Comment: From Pragmatic Overtness to Legal Taxonomy of Equality. Ottoman-Turkish Perspectives on Colombian Linguistic Diversity and Law (Zülâl Muslu)
  • Comment: Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Legal Sphere: Insights from Late Imperial Russia (Stefan B. Kirmse)


  • Categories and Concepts, Themes, References, and Outlooks in the Conference Discussions on “Law and Diversity”. A Structured Summary (Leonard Wolckenhaar)

The publication can be found in open access here.

26 February 2024

CALL FOR PAPERS: Journées internationales de la Société d'histoire du droit et des institutions des pays flamands, picards et wallons: droit et présence militaire (Dinant: 10-11 MAY 2024) (DEADLINE 1 APR 2024)


(images: Eroberung von Dinant door Sébastien Le Clerc (1683/1687) - Albertina, Austria - Public Domain;

Société d'histoire du droit et des institutions

des pays flamands, picards et wallons 

(fondée à Lille en 1929)


Journées internationales d'histoire du droit et des institutions

DINANT (Belgique), les 10 et 11 mai 2024


Appel à contributions


Les journées internationales d'histoire du droit et des institutions 2024, co-organisées par l’Université de Namur, l’Ecole Royale Militaire belge, l’Université catholique de Louvain (Saint-Louis) et la Vrije Universiteit Brussel, auront lieu à Dinant (Belgique), les 10 et 11  mai 2024 et seront consacrées au thème de « Droit et présence militaire ».


Ce thème couvre de nombreuses questions, tant historiques que juridiques, de la coexistence entre civils et militaires, d'occupation militaire, tout comme de justice extraordinaire (justice militaire), de droit de la guerre, ou encore de statuts de militaires ou des zones militaires, ou autres...


Ce thème général n’exclut pas, par ailleurs, la possibilité de communiquer sur d’autres sujets d’histoire du droit, de la justice et des institutions.


Les interventions peuvent être faites en français, en anglais ou en néerlandais. Les orateurs sont priés d’envoyer un résumé à l’avance aux organisateurs (de préférence en français).


Les contributions seront publiées ensuite dans les Cahiers du CRHIDI (si acceptées après le peer review).


Les personnes désireuses de communiquer sont priées de faire parvenir leur proposition de communication avant le 1er avril 2024 à S. HORVAT par courriel:



Internationale rechtshistorische dagen

DINANT (België), 10 en 11 mei 2024


Oproep aan kandidaat-sprekers


De internationale rechtshistorische dagen 2024 van de Société d'histoire du droit et des institutions des pays flamands, picards et wallons, georganiseerd door de Université de Namur, de Belgische Koninklijke Militaire School, de Université catholique de Louvain (Saint-Louis) en de Vrije Universiteit Brussel, zullen op 10 en 11 mei 2024 in Dinant (België) doorgaan.


Het thema is: Droit et présence militaire” (“Recht en militaire aanwezigheid”).


Dit thema dekt talrijke aspecten, zowel historische als juridische, van het samenleven van burgers en militairen, van militaire bezetting, van buitengewone rechtspraak (militaire rechtbanken), van oorlogsrecht, van het statuut van militairen of van militaire zones, enz.


Dit hoofdthema sluit overigens lezingen over andere onderwerpen van rechtsgeschiedenis of van de geschiedenis der instellingen niet uit.


De lezingen kunnen in het Frans, het Engels of het Nederlands worden gehouden. De sprekers moeten vooraf een samenvatting bezorgen aan de organisatoren (bij voorkeur in het Frans en/of het Engels).


De bijdragen zullen nadien gepubliceerd worden in de Cahiers du CRHIDI (indien aanvaard na de peer review).


Kandidaat-sprekers kunnen hun voorstel van onderwerp vóór 1 april 2024 meedelen aan S. HORVAT (per e-mail:




International Days of the Society for Legal and Institutional History of Flanders, Picardy and Wallonia

DINANT (Belgium), 10 and 11 May 2024


The Society for Legal and Institutional History of Flanders, Picardy and Wallonia holds its annual "International days" 2024 on 10 and 11 May 2024 in Dinant (Belgium) in a co-organisation of the Université de Namur, the Belgian Royal Military Academy, the Université catholique de Louvain (Saint-Louis) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.


The theme of the conference is: Droit et présence militaire” (“Law & Military Presence”).


This theme incorporates numerous historic and legal aspects of living together by military and civilians, of military occupation, of special jurisdiction (military courts), of the law of war, or the statute of military personnel or military zones, or many other questions.


Moreover this general theme does not exclude papers about other subjects regarding legal history or institutional history.


Presentations can be held in French, English or Dutch. Speakers have to send a summary to the organization (preferably in French and/or English).


The papers will be published afterwards in the Cahiers du CRHIDI (if accepted after peer review).


Proposals can be sent before 1 April 2024 to S. HORVAT by e-mail:




The blog of the European Society for Comparative Legal History is the successful media outlet of our scholarly society. Since its inception in 2010, the posts and pages have attracted over 2,3 million views from Europe and other continents (approx. 22 000 per month in the past twelve months).

We intend to strengthen and enlarge the current team of bloggers, as we regularly welcome new collaborators and thank those who wish to step down after a year of dedicated service.

Candidates are encouraged to send to esclhblog at gmail dot com by 1 March 2024:
- a brief curriculum vitae (mentioning academic credentials and IT experience)
- a cover letter

Bloggers can be at any stage of their academic career (graduate student, PhD-candidate, postdoc, assistant professor, voluntary/associate researcher...). Familiary with legal history (traditionally but not exclusively in a law faculty or history department) is of course a conditio sine qua non. It goes without saying that a Society for comparative legal history is open to candidacies from all backgrounds, irrespective of gender, legal tradition or spatial contingency. We constantly strive to enhance the diversity of our perimeter of interests.  

Serving on the blog is not remunerated. Yet, bloggers receive a reduction on the membership fee of our Society, and are displayed on the blog, as a recognition of their effort.  

The level of engagement with the blog can vary depending on the person. We aim to publish one notification of publication, job announcement, call for papers... per working day, in order to keep the interested audience connected to our RSS-feed, this URL, X (twitter) account, or the daily mailing with

JOURNAL: Grotiana XLIV (2023), No. 2 (Dec)


(image source: Brill)

Grotius’s Contribution to Commercial and Maritime Law (Dave De ruysscher) (OPEN ACCESS)
First sentences:

On 10 February 2023 a workshop was held at Tilburg University that addressed the theme of Grotius and commercial and maritime law. The thematic issue presented here is the outcome of this event. In four contributions Grotius’s views on the issues of pledge, insolvency, representation and limited liability are analyzed.

Grotius’s Contribution to the Law of Secured Credit (Vincent Van Hoof) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1163/18760759-44020003

Over the centuries, Grotius’s writings on onderzetting (rights of hypothec) have been widely cited, particularly in the Netherlands and South Africa. This article investigates the originality and lasting impact of Grotius’s contributions to this field. The article follows the layout of the chapter on hypothecs of Grotius’s Inleiding tot de Hollandsche Rechts-geleertheyd. It examines Grotius’s translation of hypotheca as onderzetting, the structure of his Inleiding, the distinctions between various kinds of hypothec, and contemporary requirements for the creation of hypothecs. It then explores the right to follow encumbered assets into the hands of third parties and analyses the enforcement of hypothecs, priority issues in cases of competing hypothecs, and reflects on Grotius’s influence on Dutch security rights. In summary, although Grotius’s insights were largely derivative, often echoing interpretations of earlier scholars, they illustrate Grotius’s deep understanding of the influence of Germanic and Roman law on Roman-Dutch security rights. Grotius had a lasting impact on legal scholarship and practice because he was the first to provide a scholarly systematization of Roman-Dutch law within the framework of Justinian’s Institutes and firmly placed the rights of hypothec in the book on property rights of his Inleiding.

Grotius and Insolvency (Maurits Den Hollander) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI  10.1163/18760759-44020004

This article considers Hugo Grotius’s ideas on a specific topic of commercial law, analysing his position and potential contributions to early modern Dutch insolvency legislation. It might be questioned how ‘Hollandic’ Grotius’s interpretations of legal solutions for insolvency as presented in the Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche Rechts-Geleerdheid actually were. Grotius’s treatment of cessie van goede is relatively strict, whereas compositions are hardly mentioned. A rather different image rises from his later work. Here, Grotius displays a more radical view, in specific cases allowing the sovereign to interfere in private property rights and to restructure debts for the common good. It is an inriguing question if and to what extent these ideas can be related to contemporary Dutch insolvency practices.

Representation in Business: Grotius’s Inleidinge and the Ius Commune Tradition in the Low Countries (Wouter Druwé)
DOI 10.1163/18760759-44020005

In his Inleidinge tot de Hollandsche Rechts-geleerdheid, Hugo Grotius wrote an accessible introductory overview of Hollandic law, in which he combined insights from the learned law (ius commune) with the particular law of Holland. The Inleidinge was read by generations of Dutch law students, and would thus become very influential in the Roman-Dutch tradition. This contribution studies how the topic of representation, especially in a business context, was treated in Grotius’s Inleidinge. On the basis of an analysis of the Justinianic Corpus iuris, the medieval ius commune tradition and – especially – early modern scholarship from the Low Countries, it is argued that Grotius’s Inleidinge by and large followed the communis opinio among the learned scholars, although on one important point – namely the acquisition by a third party of a claim on the basis of a stipulatio alteri – Grotius went beyond that communis opinio and, thus, opened the way for a gradual wider legal acceptance of active direct representation.

Grotius and Limited Liability (Dave De ruysscher) (OPEN ACCESS)
DOI 10.1163/18760759-44020002

Grotius’s ideas on proportionate and limited liability, as mentioned in the Inleidinge and De iure belli ac pacis, were novel in comparison to the civilian doctrine of his time. Grotius drew from sources of local law and statutes regarding maritime law but was nonetheless original in his interpretations. Grotius proposed to consider the liability of co-owners of ships (reders, exercitores), who acted as organizers of maritime expeditions, and of others that were participating in these expeditions, as broad. At the same time, their liability was limited to the maximum of the value of the ship and cargo. In this regard, Grotius’s conceptions hinged on a view of a ship’s voyage as engendering a community of risk among all stakeholders. However, in spite of the underlying connections, Grotius did not eradicate all inconsistencies which the originality of his combinations brought forward.

Grotius’s Via Media (Sebastián Contreras Aguirre)
DOI 10.1163/18760759-44020006

Grotius’s theory of the foundations of law and morality follows a sort of middle way between rationalism and voluntarism. Grotius, far from both extremes, defends both the normative force of the will and the directive power of practical reason. On this basis, he explains that reason serves as the formal cause of law and the will as the efficient cause. Now, the command of the will alone is not yet valid as a law. It must conform to reason. Reasoning so, Grotius places himself within the scholastic-Aristotelian tradition. Accordingly, he holds the primacy of reason over the will and defends the eminently practical, i.e., non-mathematical, character of morality and law.

Book Reviews:

  • Contract before the Enlightenment: The Ideas of James Dalrymple, Viscount Stair, 1619–1695, written by Stephen Bogle (by Matthew Cleary)
  • Sepúlveda on the Spanish Invasion of the Americas: Defending Empire, Debating Las Casas, edited and translated by Luke Glanville, David Lupher, and Maya Feile Tomes (by Daniel Schwartz)
  • Portraits of Women in International Law: New Names and Forgotten Faces?, edited by Immi Tallgren (by Francesca Iurlarlo)
  • Hugo Grotius als Wegbereiter des Menschenrechts auf Asyl und des modernen Rechts zum Schutz geflüchteter Personen vor ernsthaftem Schaden, written by Rainer Keil (by Jacob Giltaij)
Read the full issue here.


CALL FOR PAPERS: Fifth Postgraduate Conference in Comparative Legal History: “The Making of Law in Comparative perspective: Legislators and Judges” (Valencia: Valencia University, 2-4 MAY 2024); DEADLINE 25 MARCH 2024


The European Society for Comparative Legal History (ESCLH) is pleased to announce its Fifth Postgraduate Conference. The ESCLH invites PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers who work in the field of comparative legal history to participate in the conference. The conference will be held from 2 to 4 May 2024 at Valencia University, Spain.

The ESCHL wants to overcome the narrow nationalism and geographical segregation of legal history in contemporary European scholarship and professional organisations. The society, thus, aims to promote comparative legal history, the explicit comparison of legal ideas and institutions in two or more legal traditions. The conference will somehow focus on the making of laws, exploring their creation and application by judges.

The Fifth Postgraduate Conference of the ESCLH will give PhD-students and post-doctoral researchers the opportunity to present their research in the field of comparative legal history to a panel of six leading experts. Furthermore, the conference will give all participants the opportunity to build academic networks. The experts on the panel cover a broad range of subjects: Luisa Brunori (Paris), Stefano Vinci (Bari), Matt Dyson (Oxford), Phillip Hellwege (Augsburg) and Judit Beke-Martos (Bochum).

The ESCLH invites doctoral candidates and post-doctoral researchers to submit abstracts of their planned presentation. Please submit one document, as a PDF or Word file with an abstract and a CV, of no more than 5 pages. The abstract should be of no more than 300 words. It should give the title of the research project, the field of research, and personal information (full name, email address, affiliated university). The application should be sent to:

The conference language is English and abstracts must be submitted in English. The closing date for receipt of abstracts is 25 February 2024. Up to twelve applicants will be selected and invited to participate in the conference. Successful applicants will be informed by 25 March 2024.

Participants are expected to cover their own travel expenses (arriving on the 2nd May and departing on the 4th afternoon or evening). Accommodation and catering will be provided without charge. With enough notice, accommodation for the night of Saturday May 4 can also be provided, at cost (approximately 50 Euros per person).

23 February 2024

REMINDER CFP: Grotian law and modernity at the dawn of a new age 400 years of De jure belli ac pacis 1625-2025 International Conference (The Hague: Leiden University Wijnhaven Campus, 19-20 JUN 2025); DEADLINE 1 MAY 2024


 (image: medal representing Grotius as "phenix of the fatherland" and "oracle of Delft", 1739; Germanisches Nationalmuseum/Europeana)

Grotian law and modernity at the dawn of a new age

400 years of De jure belli ac pacis 1625-2025

International Conference 19-20 June 2025

Leiden University Wijnhaven Campus, The Hague


Call for papers


On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the first publication of De jure belli ac pacis by Hugo Grotius in 1625, an international conference will be organized by the Grotiana Foundation, the Paul Scholten Centre for Jurisprudence at the University of Amsterdam, the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at the University of Leiden and the Department of Public Law and Governance at Tilburg University.


In 1925, the third centenary of the first publication of Hugo Grotius’ most seminal work on the law of nations, De jure belli ac pacis libri tres (Three Books on the Law of War and Peace) offered the occasion for elaborate festivities and commemorating activities in and outside the Netherlands. The anniversary was organized against the backdrop of a revival of interest in Grotius as a trailblazer for international law among proponents of the international ‘peace through law’ movement, which went back to the Hague Peace Conferences and was given new traction after the Great War.


In the past few decades, international academic interest has widened beyond the scope of international law to encompass the full extent of Grotius’ life, thought and works across the disciplines. The mainstream narratives of Grotius as ‘father of international law’ and visionary defender of international peace and justice have given way to more nuanced readings of his life and work, as well as his many receptions and revivals, against the changing patterns of social, political and ethical ideas and values. In recent years, Grotius’ role both as an actor in the Dutch imperialist enterprise and a defender of unity and reconciliation among the Christian confessions have been highlighted. All this solicits critical reconsiderations of De jure belli ac pacis and Grotius’ role in the history of international law.


The major aim of the conference is to foster new narratives on the thought of Grotius, in general legal theory as well as in international law against a the backdrop of present-day rapid, fundamental changes that challenge the very foundations of the modernist paradigm, of which Grotius may be considered a key trailblazer. The core question of the academic conference is to what extent Grotian thought about general legal theory and international law is still relevant today, and what adaptations current foundational changes to our world make necessary. In this context, discussion of the many trajectories of reception, appropriation and reinterpretation of Grotius in different times and places, offers a valuable, additional perspective.


Through the conference ‘Grotian law and modernity at the dawn of a new age’, the organizers want to stimulate debate on the constitutional impact of current changes for the global legal order through the lens of a long-term historical analysis. The speakers in the conference are invited to reach back to Grotius’ thought and work as a starting point for discussing the foundations of the modern legal order of the past four centuries and the changes this is currently undergoing. They are asked to use this long-term historical framework to make sense of current upheavals and look for direction towards the future of law.


The conference program falls into three parts (with parallel sessions).

Part I ‘Lineages of Grotian thought’ discusses the material and ideological receptions, reinterpretations and appropriations of De jure belli ac pacis at different times during the past four centuries. It assembles a number of papers that trace the lineages, in terms of material history or content, of Grotius’ ideas with regards to different branches of legal theory or practical law. It looks to reviewing traditional, often celebratory narratives of Grotius from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries from the perspective of a wide array of themes including political and economic governance, human rights, imperialism or (in)equality.


Part II ‘Modernity and the dawn of a new age: general theory of law and governance’ and Part III ‘Modernity and the dawn of a new age: international law and governance’ address the question of the significance of current changes for the constitution of a new global legal order, using De jure belli ac pacis as a platform for discussing the development, transformation and superseding of modern law.

Part II concerns general questions of the theory of law and governance.

Part III pertains to specific questions of public international law.


At the end of the second day, an academic session will be organized for a wider audience, with a key note speech and a panel discussion on the core topic of the conference.


Invitation to speakers


In addition to three keynote speakers, the organizers invite twelve speakers for each of the three thematic parts of the conference.


Candidates are requested to send in an abstract of 250-400 words and short c.v. of max. 100 words to the general convener, Randall Lesaffer ( by 1 May 2024. Please mention your affiliation and indicate a preference for one of the three conference themes.


The event takes place in person without online presentations. The organization is not in a position to fund accommodation or travel expenses and invites selected speakers to search for funding themselves. Those selected speakers for whom this is impossible, are requested to contact the general convener on this.


Propositions will be assessed by the Organizing Committee and selected on the basis of the quality of abstracts and the fit with the programme.


Part I ‘Lineages of Grotian thought’

Convener: Mark Somos

Keynote speaker: Martine van Ittersum

The material conditions of the production and reception of De jure belli ac pacis form a neglected and highly rewarding field of research. Recent studies of the printing history of various editions have started to clarify Grotius’ own role in the revision and timing of new editions; piracy and rivalry among publishers; the marketing strategy for each edition; and the dissemination and movement of copies. The burgeoning study of annotations that legal scholars, aristocrats, municipal and imperial administrators, prominent politicians and thinkers have left behind in their copies of De jure belli ac pacis is shedding new light on the hitherto unseen history of this work’s real impact. Early insights into the lineages of Grotian thought that only close attention to the surviving copies’ materiality can provide include the intensity and ingenuity of the Catholic reception of De jure belli ac pacis. Another set of discoveries that emerges from the material heritage of De jure belli ac pacis reveals historical moments of focused interest in specific passages of the text in response to crises that previous historiography has never considered to be part of the book’s reception, such as the breakup of the Iberian Union, nineteenth-century abolitionism, or the start of World War I. Grounding the reception history of De jure belli ac pacis in the book’s materiality is essential for recovering the four centuries of its impact in full, from its earliest classroom use to its latest invocation in front of an international tribunal, as well as for reassessing Grotius’ role in the evolution of the laws of war, the relationship between morality and law, sovereignty, natural rights, freedom of navigation and imperialism.

Part I welcomes proposals for papers on the various editions’ printing history, surviving annotations, evidence of the book’s use in classrooms, in court and the corridors of power,  and the broader relationship between the material and intellectual receptions of De jure belli ac pacis. We thereby expressly invite papers on receptions of and engagements with Grotius in different parts of the world.



Part II ‘Modernity and the dawn of a new age: general theory of law and governance’

Convener: Marc de Wilde

Keynote speaker: Annabel Brett

In De jure belli ac pacis, Grotius developed three ideas that have been recognized as major innovations in legal theory. First of all, he presented natural law as the moral foundation of both domestic and international legal systems. Secondly, he revolutionized the traditional understanding of natural law by focusing on the natural rights of individuals. And thirdly, he distinguished between natural law and religious belief, arguing that the rights of individuals had to be protected irrespective of religious differences. With these ideas, Grotius stood at the cradle of the modernist paradigm of legal theory which emphasized the need for a secular and universal legal order based on individual rights. However, depending on the context in which Grotius’s theory was applied, its meaning proved to be ambiguous. Thus, Grotius’s concept of natural law was also used to justify imperialism and colonialism, and it served to legitimize the practice of slavery. Moreover, present-day challenges, such as climate change or the rise of artificial intelligence, require us to reconsider the main assumptions behind Grotius’s theory, such as his notion of the free will or the unlimited availability of natural resources. The speakers are invited to reflect critically on Grotius’s contribution to legal theory and its present-day relevance by presenting papers on the following topics: the universality of natural law (or its limitations), individual rights as foundation of the legal system (and its potential downsides), the relation between natural law, imperialism and slavery, the challenges new technologies pose to the free will and legal regulation, and the state’s role in balancing individual rights and the public good (as, for instance, in the case of climate change).


Part III ‘Modernity and the dawn of a new age: international law and governance’

Convener: Eric De Brabandere

Keynote speaker: Hilary Charlesworth

This part pertains to specific questions of contemporary and future public international law. The actual text of De jure belli ac pacis libri tres is often neglected, given the wealth of secondary sources.  This part of the conference invites critique and examination of the potential of De jure belli ac pacis as a text with contemporary relevance. To this end, Part III invites papers that critically explore the Grotian traditions and its potential impact on particularized problems of contemporary international law. Of special interest are papers that adopt a critical lens to the Grotian legacy in the sphere of international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Critical analysis of the idea of a ‘Grotian Moment’ and the mainstream progress narrative of international law is invited.  Analysis of Grotius’ work on the treatment of foreigners and enemies (of all humankind or otherwise) is welcome, as are papers examining Grotian legacy in the context of jus post bellum (the transition from armed conflict to a just and sustainable peace). Ultimately, this section of the conference hopes to imagine how Grotius’ great work could be used to better manage the problems of, if not the next 400 years, at least the next 40.


Speakers are expected to turn in a draft paper before 1 June 2025. Papers will be distributed to the participants in advance of the conference. Those papers which pass peer review will be published in both the journal Grotiana (New Series) as well as collected in a separate book with Brill.


Organizing committee


Jeroen Vervliet (Grotiana), chair

Eric De Brabandere (Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, University of Leiden), convener ‘International law and governance’

Randall Lesaffer (Department of Public Law and Governance, Tilburg University & Grotiana), general convener

Janne Nijman (Department of Public International Law, University of Amsterdam)

Marc de Wilde (Department of Jurisprudence, University of Amsterdam & Grotiana), convener ‘General legal theory and governance’

Mark Somos (Grotiana), convener ‘Lineages of Grotian thought’


Further introduction to the conference theme


In international law, the term ‘Grotian moments’ is sometimes used to indicate times and occurrences of fundamental change in the constitution of the international legal order. The phrase carries the implication that Grotius’ De jure belli ac pacis was constitutive for the new international order that emerged at the dawn of the modern age.

Grotius’ De jure belli ac pacis is undoubtedly one of the most iconic texts from Western legal history. While this is widely recognized in relation to international law or natural law jurisprudence, its relevance extends beyond the confines of international law into that of law and governance at large. In many ways, Grotius’ major legal treatise has been and remains a major source for imagining, articulating and debating law as both the guarantor of individual autonomy and an instrument of state policy under the paradigm of modernity.

The Western paradigm of modern law came to full fruition during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the heyday of the sovereign nation-state.  The paradigm of modern law may be caught under its following core features: 1) the autonomy of the individual human being as foundation for social order; 2) consent as the basis for the legal organization of both private transactions and public authority; 3) the separation of a private sphere of liberty from a sphere of public interest; 4) the understanding of the role of public authority and law in terms of balancing between individual autonomy and public interest; 5) the claim to exclusive jurisdiction over law making and law enforcement by the state both in internal and international relations; 6) the global expansion of this model in the context of imperialism, colonization and decolonization.

De jure belli ac pacis held no blueprint for this modern law paradigm, but contained many building blocks, both great and small. Although the question of justice in war stood at the heart of the treatise, Grotius framed it in the context of a novel general theory of law, and did so by addressing a plethora of fundamental issues of private, constitutional and criminal law. Grotius’ reimagination of natural law in terms of individual and individually enforceable rights preconfigured the foundational role of the autonomy of the individual as the key constitutional principle of the modern nation-state with its separation of a private from a public sphere. His contract theory of the state and his equation of the natural rights of the state with those of the individual allowed for the elevation of the state to the sovereign creator of positive law. At the same time, his acknowledgment of the autonomy of natural law from Christian religion allowed to create a standard of justice that was said to derive from universal principles of humanity but at the same time was laden with the inheritance of hundreds of years of Christian and European intellectual tradition.


De jure belli ac pacis does not just stand at the foundations of modern law. For four hundred years it has retained currency as a source of inspiration to argue for new turns and twists along the path of the emergence, the maturation and the transformation of modern law. If 19th-century international lawyers hailed Grotius for having given autonomy to international law as the preserve of the sovereign state, their 20th-century successors have seen in him the remote trailblazer for the supremacy of the international community over the state. In this sense, the relevance of Grotius’ thought has proven resilient to many of the most fundamental changes of the past four centuries and has survived several ‘Grotian moments’ so far.

The two decades that have lapsed since the beginning of the 21st century have witnessed tremendous and profound changes that challenge the very basis of the modern law paradigm. The globalization of economic and social life together with the empowerment of the individual and non-state agents have severely weakened the claims of states to exclusive jurisdiction, furthering the erosion of traditional state-based institutions and principles of democracy and rule of law. The relative decline of the West and the resilience of authoritarianism question the universalism that for the better part of two centuries has been part of the Western paradigm of modernity. Climate change is putting a hard stop on the belief in the unending possibilities of the growth of humankind and its ‘pursuit of happiness’ at the cost of the planet, while according to some the rise of artificial intelligence challenges the very centrality of consent, free will and individual autonomy.

The 400th anniversary of the first publication of Grotius’ De jure belli ac pacis offers an excellent occasion to question the impact of current global changes on the existent global order in terms of a paradigmatic shift away from the modern understanding of law.