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The Role of Practice in International Organizations

The Case of Government Recognition by the International Monetary Fund

Lorenzo Arditi

This article explores the ‘practice’ of the International Monetary Fund (‘imf’) by focusing on the organization’s approach to recognition of governments. After analysing this approach in some detail, it surveys the organization’s practice from three perspectives. First, it identifies the different functions of practice within the imf’s legal system, including the imf’s treaty. Second, the article reviews how the practice of the imf relates to key conceptions of practice under international law: (i) as part of international custom; (ii) under articles 31(3)(b) and 32 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; and (iii) as a ‘rule of the organization’. Finally, the article compares ‘practice’ under the imf treaty and a national legal system by considering how the United States’ Supreme Court has interpreted the power to recognise governments under the USConstitution.

Philipp Glahé


After the Second World War, the Allies began a program of legal prosecution of war criminals who were to be sentenced in fair and public processes. However, these processes soon evoked vivid criticism, and by no means simply from former National Socialists. The Heidelberg Circle of Jurists (‘Heidelberger Juristenkreis’) is an example of a heterogeneous lobby group including victims of National Socialism as well as supporters of this ideology demanding amnesty for German war criminals between 1949 and 1955. Numbering forty high-ranking judges, lawyers, politicians, professors and church representatives, the Circle had access to a vast network and had a considerable impact on Allied and German war-crimes policy. On the basis of new source material, this article examines the Circle’s evolution, its apparently contradictory composition, its argumentation and its aims, by focusing on three of its members, the former minister of justice of the Weimar Republic and legal philosopher Gustav Radbruch, the internationalist Erich Kaufmann and the Nuremberg lawyer Hellmut Becker.

Fernando Pérez Godoy


This study is part of the current trend of expanding ‘histories of international law’. From a regional perspective, I analyse not just the South American dimension of the process known as the ‘universalization of international law science’, but also focus on the ‘ideological use’ of ius gentium europaeum in the debate on the occupation of indigenous territories governing by the nation Mapuche in the south of Chile (1861–1883) and then the discussion on the legitimacy of the Saltpeter War between Chile and the Bolivian-Peruvian Alliance (1879–1884). I argue that the Chilean national legal discourse applied a core argument of nineteenth-century international law to legitimize its foreign policy in those conflicts: ‘the standard of civilization’. Thus, it is possible to speak about a domestic recreation of imperial logic as part of the globalization of the European law of nations in the nineteenth century.