Nijman frontcover

The Concept of International Legal Personality - An Inquiry into the History and Theory of International Law

2004 Author: Dr Janne E. Nijman



  • Published: 2004
  • Pages: xviii + 494 pp.
  • Publisher: T.M.C. ASSER PRESS
  • Distributor: T.M.C. Asser Press
  • ISBN: 978-90-6704-183-6

The Concept of International Legal Personality examines International Legal Personality (ILP) and its use in theories of international law. At the same time, it firmly bases the concept in the broader context of the intellectual and socio-political trends against whose background these theories were shaped. It contains detailed studies of the work of ten of the most eminent scholars of international law and their use of ILP. In the process, light is shed on other important (and enduring) themes of international law. This book demonstrates that G.W. Leibniz, who coined the concept of ILP, is unfairly overlooked as a great international law and society theorist who attempted to solve the issue of how to accommodate new actors in the established order. The analyses of the work of the further scholars in the context of their time leads to some unexpected and fascinating encounters with, for example, Sigmund Freud and Hans Vaihinger when Kelsen’s argument is analysed in relation to its Viennese context; or with Reinhold Niebuhr, Emil Brunner, and even the poet W.H. Auden in the analysis of the theories of Morgenthau and Lauterpacht during the post-WWII decades.

Past international law thinking in part determines what we consider plausible scenarios for the future. This account of the history of ILP not only offers alternatives to the traditional ideas concerning ILP, but also lays bare how it has been and can be used in the (re-)conception of the moral-political identity of international law. After setting the scene with a thought-provoking juxtaposition of Foucault and Ricoeur, the book provides a first impetus for re-conceptualisation based on the ideas of Hannah Arendt and Paul Ricoeur and related to the problems facing the international society at present. In brief, the book contributes significantly to the study of the history and theory of international law, but also puts the concept into a new perspective by relating it to concepts of legitimacy, democracy, and justice in international governance.

Janne E. Nijman is a researcher at the Amsterdam Center of International law (ACIL), University of Amsterdam (UvA) and holds a doctorate from Leiden University. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for International Law and Justice, New York University, School of Law, participating in the History and Theory of International Law Program and was previously a Fellow at the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague. This study is also part of the Leiden University law faculty research program ‘Securing the Rule of Law in a World of Multilevel Jurisdiction: Coherence, Institutional Principles and Fundamental Rights'.

With a foreword by P.H. Kooijmans, Judge, International Court of Justice.

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