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The League of Nations and International Law during the Interbellum

vrijdag, 25 oktober, 2019 - 13:00 to zaterdag, 26 oktober, 2019 - 13:00
Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en kunsten
Hertogsstraat 1, 1000 Brussel


The League of Nations and International Law during the Interbellum, 25-26 October 2019, Brussels 

The centennial of the outbreak of the First World War has witnessed renewed academic interest in the League of Nations, as one of the major international institutions that followed the conclusion of peace. Scholarly efforts have focused on its contested legacy when it comes the preservation of collective security during the Interbellum, through a critical evaluation of the League’s ability to provide for peaceful international co-operation in the form of diplomacy and of the establishment of the Permanent Court of International Justice. Others have highlighted the imperial dimensions of the League’s history and its continued adherence to the Western ‘civilising mission’ through the promotion of the mandate system and its ambivalence towards colonial wars in spite of its commitment to the principle of self-determination. Comparative institutional approaches to the League’s history through an analysis of its legal personality and economic and financial organisation have led to a recognition of the League’s Covenant as a founding document when it comes to the concept of international organisations.

This conference attempts to incorporate these findings, while also widening the scope of the League’s history to an inclusion of the following topics that have hitherto remained understudied. The focus is on the role of international law(yers) in the formation of the League and of the League in the development of international law.

1) A contextual, institutional legal history of the League that focuses on the main actors – especially international lawyers - involved in the creation of the Covenant, the League’s daily legal-administrative workings and the international diplomacy conducted under the auspices of the League

2) An analysis of the League’s impact on the doctrinal and practical developments with regard to specific regulatory fields of international law, e.g. health, labour, finance, international crime, collective security, colonialism, etc.

The academic committee consists of Prof. Dr. Randall Lesaffer (KU Leuven, Tilburg University), Prof. Dr. Frederik Dhondt (VUB, UAntwerp, UGent) and Dr. Inge Van Hulle (Tilburg University).


Friday, 25 October 2019 (Palace of Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts)

13:00: Welcome by Prof. dr. Dirk Heirbaut (UGent/Instituut voor Rechtsgeschiedenis; President of the Committee for Legal History)

13:10:  Welcome by Prof. dr. Randall Lesaffer (Tilburg/iHilt – KULeuven/Onderzoekseenheid Romeins Recht en Rechtsgeschiedenis) – Dr. Inge Van Hulle (Tilburg/iHilt) en Prof. dr. Frederik Dhondt (VUB/UAntwerpen)

13:30-14:45: Panel 1

- Prof. dr. Giulio Bartolini (Roma Trè), “The League of Nations and Italian International Law scholars”

- Dr. Camilla Boisen (NYU Abu Dhabi) and Chris Allsobrook (Fort Hare University), “'The Development of Segregated Trusteeship in Africa and its Role in Decolonisation”

14:45-15:15: Coffee break

15:15-16:30: Panel 2

- Prof. dr. Péter Kovács (ICC), “Historical and Legal Sources: The Protection of Minorities under the Auspices of the League of Nations”

- Dr. Martyn Housden (University Bradford), “Who were the most progressive: statesmen, international staff or nationality leaders? A discussion of the slow emergence of the international law of minority rights after the First World War.

16:30-17:00: Coffee Break

17:00-18:15: Panel 3

- Dr. Vincent Genin (KULeuven/FWO), “Belgian Lawyers and the International Labour Organization (1920-1940)”

- Prof. dr. Agatha Verdebout (Université Catholique de Lille), “The Doctrinal Debates on the Concept of ‘War’ in the LN Covenant of the League of Nations and the Evolution of the Law on the Use of Force in the Interbellum”

18:15: Intermediate reflections by Prof. Dr. Frederik Dhondt.

19:30: Conferencedinner at the university foundation
            adress: Egmontstraat 11, 1000 Brussels

21:00: Facultative social activities in the city centre of Brussels 

Saturday, 26 October 2019 (Palace of Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts)

08:30 Welcome

08:45-10:00: Panel 4

- Dr. Megan Donaldson (Cambridge University), “Diplomacy by other means: international law, international lawyers, and the practice of codification”

- Dr. Sebastian Spitra (Universität Wien) , “The League of Nations and Cultural Heritage”

10:00-10:15: Coffee Break

10:15-12:00: Panel 5

- Dr. Rose Parfitt (Kent University), “The Process of International League-al Reproduction”

- Prof. Dr. Morten Rasmussen (University of Kopenhagen) & Dr. Karin Van Leeuwen (Maastricht University), “Promoting the general interest in international law? Joost Adriaan van Hamel and the early years of the League of Nation’s Legal Section (1920-1925)”

- Dr. Klaas Dykmann (University of Roskilde), “Pan Americanism and its Imprint on the League of Nations”

12.00: Final Remarks (Prof. Dr. Randall Lesaffer)

Practical information

The congress

The congress takes place at Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en kunsten, Hertogsstraat 1, 1000 Brussel

For more information about the location and how to reach it, click here

The dinner

The Dinner takes place at universitaire stichting, Egmontstraat 11, 1000 Brussel


Registration is possible until 15 October 2019 (25 euros/day ; 50 euro for whole conference, 50 euro for dinner - ONLY 25 October).

Please fill out the registration form below and follow all the steps untill the end.


Inzenden via dit formulier is niet langer mogelijk.