International Organization through Law? The League of Nations and International Law, 1919-1939


  • Start: Nov 29, 2021 09:30 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • End: Nov 30, 2021 05:30 PM
  • Conveners: Stefan Vogenauer, Morten Rasmussen (Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen)
  • Location: video conference
  • Room: For further information, please contact Morten Rasmussen,
International Organization through Law? The League of Nations and International Law, 1919-1939

Among legal scholars it has long been recognised that the League of Nations system, including the International Labour Organisation and the Permanent Court of International Justice, laid the foundations on which post-1945 international cooperation and international law was based. However, the political fiasco of the League in addressing interwar security dilemmas, and the collapsing world order in the 1930s that led to the Second World War, has until recently meant that neither legal scholars nor historians have systematically studied the legal history of the League of Nations system. This is still the case despite a renewed interest in the League and other interwar international organisations in historical scholarship on the one hand and the emergence of a rich intellectual history of international law in the interwar period authored by legal scholars on the other. While these separate fields of scholarship have highlighted the rich variety in international legal thinking and the lasting impact of the first international organisations on the contemporary international order, they have overlooked how organising the international was fundamentally intertwined with the development of international law. This conference will address this lacuna by focusing on the bureaucrats, delegates, associations and many other actors involved in producing and shaping international law and legal techniques while developing the League of Nations system. As the first conference to systematically discuss archive-based legal history of the League of Nations system, it challenges the current disciplinary division by innovatively examining from a bottom-up perspective how these individuals – as proponents of key institutions, networks and states – appropriated international law for the realisation of their national and international agendas, while in turn finding these agendas significantly influenced and even restricted by the emerging system of international law.

The conference will be held at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the conference will take place as a video conference. Participation will be free of charge and those interested should please send an informal message to mortenra@.... Further information as to the platform will follow in due course.

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