Books

[Mary Ellen O’Connell is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law and Professor of International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. O’Connell’s research is in the areas of international law on the use of force and international legal theory.] Agatha Verdebout’s Rewriting Histories of the Use of Force belongs with Philip Allott’s Health of Nations, Martti Koskenniemi’s Gentle Civilizer of Nations, and Stephen Neff’s...

[Ingo Venzke is a Professor at the University of Amsterdam.] ‘This workshop where ideals are fabricated—it seems to me just to stink of lies.’Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality (2007 [1887]), §I.14 It is a common belief that international law had little to say on the legality of the use of force before the First World War. A ‘narrative of indifference’ holds that...

[Miriam Bak McKenna is Associate Professor of Law and Global Governance at Roskilde University, School of Social Science and Business. Her book Reckoning with Empire: Self-Determination in International Law (Brill) was released in December 2022.] By now it is perhaps axiomatic to assert that the historical narratives surrounding international law are rather murky at best. As the canon of texts revisiting and critiquing...

[Siddharth Mallavarapu is Professor and Head of the Department of International Relations and Governance Studies at the Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence in India.] Close to a year after the commencement of the Russia-Ukraine war, there is barely anything that can be more topical and worthwhile than a closer look at the histories of international law relating to the use of force. Agatha Verdebout...

[Isa Blumi is Associate Professor at the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Stockholm University.] Dr. Agatha Verdebout’s Rewriting Histories of the Use of Force (2021) charts how International Law’s founding generations of scholars sought relevance during times when the powerful adopted “the law” only when it suited their interests. By reading beyond the ‘emotional’, ‘cynical’, or ‘idealistic’ discourse that accompanied assertive claims about the...

[Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg is a Departmental Lecturer of International Relations at Oxford University.] Rewriting Histories of the Use of Force: The Narrative of Indifference, by Dr. Agatha Verdebout, is an impressive volume covering a vast time period with an ambitious goal: to, as the title suggests, “rewrite” the history of use of force in international law in the 19th century. Dr. Verdebout starts by noting...

[Mohamed S. Helal is Associate Professor of Law at the Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University; and member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration as well as of the African Union Commission on International Law.] Agatha Verdebout’s Rewriting Histories of the Use of Force: The Narrative of Indifference is an exhaustively researched and lucidly written volume that makes important contributions to both the history...

[Alexandra Hofer is Assistant Professor in Public International Law at Utrecht University.] I should probably start by admitting that I am not indifferent to Dr Agatha Verdebout’s Rewriting the Histories of the Use of Force: The Narrative of ‘Indifference’ (apologies for the poor wordplay). I first heard Agatha present her research in December 2015, during one of the seminars of Ghent University’s International Order & Justice...

[Karin Loevy is a fellow at NYU School of Law, where she serves as the manager JSD Program. She is also a researcher at the Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ) where she leads the History & Theory of International Law workshop series. Her current work is in history of international law in the Middle East in the period leading to the mandate system.] One thing that...

[Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Utrecht University. She is the founder and co-editor of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.]  The author is grateful to comments from Brianne McGonigle Leyh and Vivek Bhatt on an earlier draft of this post. Reading Boyd van Dijk’s Preparing for War at a time when the prospect of...