Handboek Internationaal Recht [Handbook International Law]
In 1995, then director Gerard Tanja of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut initiated an ambitious project: to produce a new Dutch language manual/handbook on international law, as a long-awaited successor to the 1967, 3rd and last, edition of Grondlijnen van het Volkenrecht [Outlines of public international law] by Professor J.P.A. François. An earlier attempt to produce a successor to this book had resulted in a more capita selecta type publication, the three volumes of International Law in the Netherlands (1978-1980).
A committee of “wise men”, consisting of Dr. Ad Bos, Professor Peter Kooijmans, and Dr. Bert Voskuil, was formed to advise on the set-up and content of the book. When Dr. Olivier Ribbelink joined the Institute in 1997 he became the overall coordinator of the project.
The original planning counted 15 chapters and as many authors, but soon it became clear that because of the many new and often far-reaching developments in existing fields, such as human rights law, international economic law, and international criminal law, as well as the creation of new specialisations, such as international environmental law, more chapters and - thus - authors needed to be included. This had to, and did, result in an up-to-date general handbook, which in almost 1.000 pages, in 23 chapters (with 36 authors) focuses on the practice and position of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the international legal order, including relevant examples from Dutch practice. It also resulted in a substantial delay in the finalisation of the book, as the originally expected time-frame went from circa five to eleven years.
Finally, on 15 May 2007, The Hague, the Handboek Internationaal Recht [Handbook international law] was officially presented in the Peace Palace, in the presence of many authors and other guests, by the three co-editors (and authors), Dr. Olivier Ribbelink, Dr. René Lefeber and Dr. Nathalie Horbach, to representatives of the trias politica: Dr. Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Minister of Justice, Dr. Willebrord Davids, President of the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (Supreme Court), and Mr. Alexander Pechtold, deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs. These three guests of honour had been asked to address the audience briefly about the role and significance of international law in and for their respective work, and all three did so splendidly and with great verve.
Cover Handboek Internationaal Recht
Presentation of the Handbook International Law, Small Courtroom, Peace Palace, 15 May 2007 (Photo: Asser archives)
From left to right: Prof. Frans Nelissen (director T.M.C. Asser Instituut), Mr. Philip van Tongeren (publisher T.M.C. Asser Press), Dr. Olivier Ribbelink (co-editor and author), Dr. René Lefeber (co-editor and author), Dr. Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Minister of Justice), Dr. Nathalie Horbach (co-editor and author), Dr. Willebrord Davids (President Hoge Raad [Supreme Court]), Mr. Alexander Pechtold (Member of Parliament).
In 2014 the respective authors and the publishing house T.M.C. Asser Press agreed to the publication of the chapters separately on the new Asser website as part of the Asser 50 years pages.
The complete Handboek Internationaal Recht [Handbook International Law] can be downloaded below.