Drawing on the works of Alexandrowicz and Grewe, this article intends to illustrate the relevance of colonialism to the evolution of present, universal international law. The central question addressed is as follows: Do we have to regard the exclusionist international law of the imperial era (culminating in the late 19th century) as an anomaly, or ‘accident’ in international relations and hence the achievement of universal participation half a century later as a ‘return to normalcy’, or was colonialism, alongside the law that governed it, a period of transition from international law as a genuinely European order to the universal order it is today? Alexandrowicz’s and Grewe’s answers to these questions appear to be diametrically opposed. More important than judging who of them is right is understanding why these scholars arrived at such diverging conclusions.
Yasuaki Onuma‘When was the Law of International Society Born?’Journal of the History of International Law2 (2000) 1–667; Yasuaki Onuma ‘Towards an Intercivilizational Approach to Human Rights’ Asian Yearbook of International Law 7 (1997) 21–81; Ram Prakash Anand ‘Review Article on Onuma Yasuaki’s ‘When Was International Law Society Born? – An Inquiry of the History of International Law from an Intercivilizational Perspective’ Journal of the History of International Law 6 (2004) 1–14 13.
Wilhelm G. Grewe‘Vom europäischen zum universellen Völkerrecht’ZaöRV42 (1982) 449–479; Lassa Oppenheim International Law vol. i 2nd edn (London: Longmans Green Co. 1912) 46. Critically Orakhelashvili ‘Idea’ 2006 (n. 14) 338.
Anthony Anghie‘Finding the Peripheries: Sovereignty and Colonialism in Nineteenth-Century International Law’Harvard International Law Journal40 (1999) 1–8070. Cp. Koskenniemi ‘Histories’ 2013 (n. 22) 225.
Cf. also critique by Emmanuel Jouannet‘Comment on Onuma Yasuaki’s When was the Law of International Society Born? – An Inquiry of the History of International Law from an Intercivilizational Perspective’Journal of the History of International Law6 (2004) 27–3230.
Hidemi Suganami‘A Note on the Origin of the Word “International”’British Journal of International Studies4 (1978) 226–232230; David Armitage ‘Globalizing Jeremy Bentham’ History of Political Thought 32 (2011) 63–82.
Jörg Fisch‘Power or Weakness? On the causes of the worldwide expansion of European international law’Journal of the History of International Law6 (2004) 21–2621; Onuma ‘International Society’ 2000 (n. 6) 63.
Heinhard Steiger‘From the International Law of Christianity to the International Law of the World Citizen’Journal of the History of International Law3 (2001) 180–193180 et seq. Similarly Anand Developing Countries 2011 (n. 12) 2.