This article examines the relationship between international law and World War i from a basic perspective. The first question is whether, and to what degree, international law can or should be regarded as a contributing cause for the outbreak of World War i. Three aspects of international law prior to World War i are discussed: the silent ‘alliance’ between the ius ad bellum and social Darwinism, the lack of individual accountability of the members of the political and military elites under international law, and the role of the law of reprisal as a ‘fire accelerant’ of conflicts. The second focal point lies on central questions of international law during the war. Again, three aspects are addressed: the relationship between international law and new weapons as well as new methods of warfare, legal issues related to long-term occupations and the role of international law with respect to prisoners of war.
For example: Christopher ClarkThe Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (London: Allen Lane2014) (no mention in the table of contents or in the keyword register); Herfried Münkler Der Grosse Krieg. Die Welt 1914 bis 1918 (Berlin: Rowohlt 5th ed. 2014) (no mention in the table of contents or the keyword register).
Gustave Moynier‘Note sur la création d’une institution judiciaire international propre à prévenir et à réprimer les infractions à la Convention de Genève’Bulletin international des sociétés de secours aux militaires blessés11 (1872) 122–131123–129.
Committee on Alleged German OutragesReport of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages (London: H.M. Stationery Off.1915) 60–61 (British report compiled according to stringent standards). More recent publication on the topic: John Horne/Alan Kramer German Atrocities 1914: A History of Denial (New Haven: Yale University Press 2001) 10–23.
Christoph Menke‘Law and Violence’Law and Literature22 (2010) 1–171; also see Ferdinand Tönnies ‘Naturrecht und Völkerrecht’ in Arno Mohr/Rolf Fechner (eds.) Ferdinand Tönnies. Complete Edition Vol. 10 (1916–1918) (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 2008) 291–305 291.
Sophie De SchaepdrijverLa Belgique et la Première Guerre Mondiale (Brussels: Peter Lang2004) 87; Herbert Hoover An American Epic Vol. I: Introduction: The Relief of Belgium and Northern France 1914–1930 (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company 1959) 388.
Kramer‘Prisoners’ 2010 (n. 120), 77; see, too, Mark Spoerer, ‘The Mortality of Allied Prisoners of War and Belgian Civilian Deportees in German Custody during the First World War: A Reappraisal of the Effects of Forced Labour’Population Studies60(2) (July 2006) 121–136.