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In this binary scheme there was a third category — neutrality — also regulated by the laws of war. Once international law became professionalised, in the 19th century, diplomats became increasingly adept at couching state policy in legal terms.

Was the 1928 Paris Peace Pact really a failure?

As for the lawyers, they dreamed of a world in which they ruled and thus began the task of legal codification and international agreements that would regulate not only the place of war in international life but the ways in which war was fought. The Hague conventions that were drawn up in and were the apotheosis of this approach. It was in the midst of the first world war that a Chicago corporate lawyer called Salmon Levinson undermined the very foundations of this imposing edifice. What if the legalisation of war had not civilised conflict, as its proponents had argued, but in fact made it worse by giving it a veneer of legitimacy?

Should it not be outlawed entirely? One of the most interesting and important chapters in the story Hathaway and Shapiro tell is how this approach is then taken up by US isolationists.

When the World Outlawed War : David Swanson's New Book

Somewhat surprisingly, perhaps, they saw this as a way to assail the new League of Nations ; according to them, the problem with the League was that, far from outlawing war, it created for the first time in history a single world body with the exclusive monopoly on the use of force, and member states could be obliged, according to the League covenant, to go to war on its behalf.

US isolationism has had a bad press and remains seriously misunderstood. In he responded warmly to the suggestion of his French counterpart, Aristide Briand, that the two states agree a public declaration to renounce war. The general treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy was signed in Paris in August France and the US were joined by Germany — a key desideratum of the French — and dozens of states followed. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in showed that the old order had not been slain by the pen.

A decade of wars and more followed, and when Nazi Germany went to war in without a formal declaration of hostilities — followed by its then ally, the Soviet Union — this was taken as an example of totalitarian perfidy. On the contrary, throughout the s international lawyers devoted enormous energy to figuring out how to make the Paris pact compatible with the League and its provisions.

At the most basic, was League membership compatible with signature of the pact? There can be no better illustration of the fundamentally experimental and provisional character of much international law then and now than the fact that most League states had signed the pact without a second thought and left it to the lawyers to clear up the conceptual mess.

Behind the scenes, a fierce and important theoretical argument raged between lawyers such as the pro-Nazi Carl Schmitt who were sceptical of the new approach, and advocates of international organisation and the rule of law who wanted to promote it.

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In this way, one of the most powerful new sanctions against land grabs came into existence: it would become a staple of the postwar world to the point where wars of annexation — so common in earlier centuries — almost died out. Since large and powerful states tended to prey on smaller ones, this shift has contributed to the most striking transformation of international politics since the proliferation of relatively small states.

Inter-state fighting has waned. But this has not resulted in the world becoming more peaceful because internal conflicts have multiplied and at the same time weak and precarious states have continued to survive instead of being swallowed up by their neighbours. Though the pact may not have ended all war, it was highly effective in ending the main reason countries had gone to war: conquest.

This claim is supported by an empirical analysis we recently conducted of all the known cases of territorial acquisition during military conflict from to the present.

An End to War?

First, some context. Before , countries had the legal right to wage war. If one state claimed to be victimized by another, international law permitted it to use force to right the wrong. International law also gave countries the right of conquest, meaning they could benefit from war by keeping its spoils, territory and, in some cases, people. The right of conquest did not depend on whether the conqueror was in the right.

As long as it claimed to have been a victim, no matter how flimsy its argument, the conqueror became the new legal sovereign. When it outlawed war, the Kellogg-Briand Pact changed nearly every rule that states had followed for centuries. Most important, countries could no longer establish right, justice or title by brute strength. Because war was now illegal, except in cases of self-defense, states lost the right of conquest.

So the Kellogg-Briand Pact changed the law. But did it really change behavior? Yes, as our data show.

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With the research assistance of 18 Yale law students, we found that from until the Kellogg-Briand Pact was first signed in , there was, on average, approximately one territorial conquest every 10 months. Put another way, the average state during this period had a 1.

At first glance, those may seem like pretty good odds. They are not: A country with a 1. And these conquests were not small. The average amount of territory seized between and was , square miles per year. Since World War II, conquest has almost come to a full stop.

The average number of conquests per year fell drastically — to 0. The average size of the territory taken declined to a mere 5, square miles per year. And the likelihood that any individual state would suffer a conquest in an average year plummeted — from 1. In addition, our data suggest that the two decades after the Kellogg-Briand Pact went into effect — from to — also marked a radical shift in state behavior.