International Lawyers’ Failing

Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library

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Miloš Vec will analyze the intersection of the idea of pariah weapons with clashes between moral verdicts and legal bans in the 19th century. The industrial revolution and subsequent technological progress enabled the production and use of a new range of weapons and military equipment. How did international law and lawyers react to this development? What arguments based on legal doctrine were in favour of or against outlawing “uniquely evil” weapons? The talk will also offer a synopsis and interpretation of the writings from the best-known authors of the so-called classical European law of nations, such as Hugo Grotius, Emer de Vattel, and Immanuel Kant, who provided long-lasting standards and criteria for outlawing weapons. The history of international law will be approached from a multi-normative perspective that examines entanglements between legal norms, morality, and social customs (e.g. military honour codes). Finally he will address how the self-perceptions of 19th-century international lawyers and their beliefs in the progress of technology and civilization were overshadowed by Eurocentrism.
In his conclusion, he will supply evidence how such attitudes contributed to the failure of the project of outlawing weapons.

Miloš Vec is Professor of European Legal and Constitutional History at Vienna University and a Permanent Fellow at the IWM.

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