Schlagwort: sociology of law

Gazing at Europe: The Epistemic Authority of the MPIL

For the general international lawyer, neither specialized in EU law nor in European human rights law (never mind German public law), the assignment to discuss what the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (MPIL) has done for EU law, European human rights law and German public law assumes impossible dimensions: one might (almost) as well have asked me what the influence of NASA on the development of the US military has been. Plus, it is tempting to refer to the wise, if possibly apocryphal, words of Zhou En Lai when asked about the effects of the French revolution: it might be too early to tell… And yet, on closer scrutiny (and a different level of abstraction), it becomes plausible to sketch some contours, whether deriving from training, practical involvement, or theorizing.

It is generally acknowledged that the center of gravity of the MPIL has always rested with general international law; indeed, the appointment, in 2002, of Armin von Bogdandy as one of the directors, with a background more pronounced in both EU law and international trade law, may have raised a few eyebrows at the time. That is not to say no forays had been made into EU law and especially European human rights law: previous directors Rudolf Bernhardt and Jochen Frowein can justifiably claim to have been among the pioneers in that field. But even so, the MPIL was always more about international law than about EU law or even human rights law, all the more so once those disciplines started the slow separation process from international law. If in the 1960s it still made sense to view EU law as part of international law, by the late 1980s this had become considerably less plausible, and much the same applies, with a little time lag perhaps, to European human rights law. Others on this blog have indicated that, e.g., the ‘black series’ (Schwarze Reihe) of MPIL monographs and collective volumes, hugely impressive as it is, contains relatively little on both EU law and European human rights law, and much the same applies to the annals of the Heidelberg Journal of International Law (Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht).

Some Reproduction, Some Socialization

As far as training goes, large numbers of German public lawyers, EU lawyers and international lawyers must have passed through the MPIL at one stage of their career or another, either for a shorter stay or for a period of several years as research fellow. Having sometimes addressed some of them en groupe, it is reasonable to conclude that the best of them (in terms of professional skills) are very, very good indeed. There was a time – and perhaps there still is – when the external relations section of the EU’s legal service was staffed with many MPIL alumni; and personal experience suggests that rarely a group of lawyers can have had such a critical mass within an institution. By the same token, many German Foreign Office lawyers must have passed through MPIL, and many of the current generation of established German international law professors have spent considerable periods of time as well: think only of Jochen von Bernstorff, Isabel Feichtner, Matthias Goldmann, Nele Matz‑Lück, or Andreas Zimmermann – and I am probably omitting many more from the list than I should in polite company.

It is too easy to suggest that having passed through MPIL, these individuals transmit MPIL values and methods and ways of thinking on to the next generation (in the case of the professors) or to their colleagues (in the case of the civil servants – the distinction is blurry to begin with). On the other hand, it would also be far too easy to suggest that no transmission of values, methods and ways of thinking takes place; a strong case can made for legal education (and this includes doctoral and post‑doctoral training) as a process of socialization, where pupils first sit at their master’s feet and then become masters having their pupils themselves. Reproduction will rarely be total, but some reproduction, some socialization, will be present, all the more so when the training is high‑level.

And this is not limited to Germans working in Germany alone. MPIL alumni spend time in international organizations; those who come from abroad may end up working for their home governments, and some successful German international law academics based outside Germany have a strong background in the MPIL: think of Jutta Brunnée in Toronto, Nico Krisch in Geneva, or Ingo Venzke and Stephan Schill in Amsterdam – and again I am likely missing more than a few. In other words, in much the same way as the Chicago School of Economics has been (or still is) a training ground for economists worldwide, and Harvard Law School can credibly be seen as a global finishing school for legal practice (something the same school tries to emulate for a certain class of academics through its Institute for Global Law and Policy), so too has the MPIL delivered generations of international lawyers; therewith, it exercises considerable epistemic authority.

Rudolf Bernhardt as a Judge at the ECHR[1]

Such epistemic authority has also been exercised (and is still exercised) through involvement in practice. At least three of the German judges on the International Court of Justice over the last 60 years or so have spent a considerable period of time at the MPIL: Hermann Mosler (even as a director), Carl‑August Fleischhauer, and the current German judge, Georg Nolte. Hans‑Peter Kaul, another MPIL alumnus, was one of the judges at the International Criminal Court (which he helped create as well). Rüdiger Wolfrum, for two decades or so director of the MPIL, has spent many years at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and helped arbitrate a handful of disputes before the Permanent Court of Arbitration, while two other erstwhile directors (Bernhardt and Frowein) were members of the (now defunct) European Commission on Human Rights. More recently, Angelika Nussberger has been a judge at the European Court of Human Rights, while current director Anne Peters has been a member of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, tasked with promoting and evaluating the rule of law in the Council’s member states. Tongue‑in‑cheek it may be added that the other current director, Armin von Bogdandy, has served as the President of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Tribunal, although this Tribunal, like some others in the international sphere, has yet to receive any cases.

Thinking and Re-Thinking International Law – and Europe’s Public Order

But perhaps the most obvious form epistemic authority can take, with academic institutions, is the thinking and re‑thinking of what goes on in the world. German legal scholarship is traditionally very good at this, but within the German tradition, the MPIL still stands out. Anne Peters has done much (in particular before her tenure at the MPIL commenced) to re‑think the global order as a constitutional legal order, more or less continuing the tradition going back at least to Hermann Mosler. Mosler famously imagined international society as a legal society, rather than, as was common when he wrote, as a fairly random collection of billiard balls, bound together by not much more than self‑interest and balances of power or, at best, by a shared sense of anarchy. And it is hardly an exaggeration to claim that Peters during her tenure has done much to re‑position the individual in the international legal order and has almost single‑handedly created a novel sub‑discipline within international law, in the form of animal law.

For his part, Armin von Bogdandy is responsible not only for guiding a re‑conceptualization of the field of international organizations law concentrating on the exercise of public authority on the international level, but also, more appropriate to the current assignment, for systematizing ideas about Europe’s public order and for identifying principles of European constitutional law.

Perhaps the main work to be referred to here is the monumental Principles of European Constitutional Law (co-edited with Jürgen Bast), conceived when the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was on the agenda but outliving that particular event: the principles identified – and more broadly the field of European constitutional law – do not require a particular constitutional document to retain their validity. One point to note though is that, being principles of constitutional law, they pertain more to the relationship between the EU and both its citizens and its member states, than to other matters. These constitutional principles include equal liberty, the rule of law, democracy, and solidarity, as well as principles of Union unity, respect for diversity among the member states, and the wonderful (and wonderfully intriguing) principle of Gemeinschaftstreue. The list is persusasive, and derives from a number of sources, including the case‑law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Arguably though, not unlike a Rubik’s cube, a constitutional order has other sides as well. This has become considerably clearer after the book first saw the light, with the CJEU making much of a principle of autonomy in a case such as Achmea. And as autonomy is always a relational notion, the autonomy here is not so much autonomy vis‑à‑vis the member states, but rather the autonomy of EU law (its legal order) vis‑à‑vis competing legal orders.

Be that as it may, and despite the circumstance that such exercises always have a relatively high von‑Münchausen‑quality (a system pulling itself up by its own hair, so to speak), thinking of the EU in terms of constitutional principles was rather novel at the time, and has stood the test of time, at least thus far: the principles identified seem to have become generally accepted as such in the intervening two decades – and that marks quite an achievement.

Great Epistemic Power, Great Epistemic Responsibility

Armin von Bogdandy at the Max-Planck-Tag 2018[2]

So, it seems clear that MPIL exercises considerable epistemic authority: through training, through legal practice, through its research work. There is (ironically perhaps) always a price to pay: epistemic authority is rarely legitimated by considerations of democracy or the Rule of Law; instead, it takes place when democracy proves inert, or paralyzed, or disinterested. And of course some things cannot be democratically decided on to begin with: one cannot meaningfully legislate a ‘principle of solidarity’, e.g., or perhaps even ‘legislate’ principles to begin with. It may be possible to enact rules embodying solidarity, but principles are generally too evasive to be legislated. And this, in turn, suggests that much comes to depend on the individuals exercising epistemic authority: with great epistemic power comes great epistemic responsibility, to paraphrase an old maxim.

Even so, things could hardly be otherwise. An institution such as the MPIL is bound to exercise epistemic authority, whether it wants to or not. Bringing excellent scholars together, training them, sending them out in the world, participating in governance, and re‑thinking the law and legal orders: how could this, if done properly (or even improperly) not be authoritative? It may well be that the contribution of MPIL to international law has been more obvious than its contribution to EU law or European human rights law, but gazing at Europe nonetheless reveals something to reflect upon.

[1] Photo: ECHR.

[2] Photo: MPIL.

 

Burg in der Brandung? Das MPIL im Mobilisierungsprozess der 68er Bewegung

A Bastion in Troubled Waters? The MPIL in the Mobilisation Process of the 1968 Movement

Deutsch

Prolog

„1968 ist eine Jahreszahl, in die sich das Imaginäre eingenistet hat“, schrieb der Schriftsteller und Essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger, der als Herausgeber des Kursbuch zu den Sprechern der Außerparlamentarischen Opposition in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zählte, in Notizen zu einem Tagebuch aus dem Jahr 1968. Es seien „die verbotenen Sätze auf die Straße gegangen“, notierte er: „Zweitausend, zwanzigtausend, zweihunderttausend Worte, Umzüge, Resolutionen […] Die Widersprüche schrien zum Himmel. Jeder Versuch, den Tumult intelligibel zu machen, endete notwendig im ideologischen Kauderwelsch.“[1] Auch vor Heidelberg machten die Worte, die auf die Straße gingen – eine treffende Metapher, um das Neue, die Besetzung von Straßen und Plätzen, zu zeigen – nicht halt. Lautstarke Protestaktionen und performative Happenings setzten nach dem 2. Juni 1967 ein und dauerten an, als an anderen Orten die Mobilisierung längst abgeebbt war, so dass auch von „Heidelgrad“ gesprochen wurde.[2] Wie positionierte sich das Max‑Planck‑Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (MPIL) in den und zu den Konflikten? Fungierte es als Burg in der Brandung? Setzte es, fernab der Altstadt, seine Arbeit in einer Art Elfenbeinturm fort? Auf den ersten Blick sieht es so aus, aber noch fehlt eine fundierte Studie über das Institut vor dem Hintergrund der kritischen Ereignisse der Jahre 1967 bis 1970. Es fehlen zudem, um eine solche zu erstellen, Aufzeichnungen, Stellungnahmen, Erinnerungen der Mitarbeiter des Instituts in diesen Jahren – anders als von anderen Instituten liegen mir keine „Wortergreifungen“ der Assistenten vor, keine zeitgenössischen, keine rückblickenden. [3] Last but not least steht eine systematische Suche nach Gesprächs- und Sitzungsprotokollen, Notizen, Flugblättern, Plakaten und Fotos aus. Dieser Beitrag zur Rolle des Instituts im Mobilisierungsprozess der 68er Bewegung kann daher nur eine Annäherung im Konjunktiv sein. Diese lässt sich von zwei analytischen Bezugsrahmen leiten: den Überlegungen Pierre Bourdieus zum juridischen Feld sowie von Fragestellungen und Hypothesen der Sozialen Bewegungsforschung. Sie untergliedert sich zwei Punkten.

1. Soziale Bewegung und juridisches Feld

Die Welle der Proteste, die in fast allen westlichen Industrieländern 1968 kulminierte, war mehr als eine Studenten- oder Generationsrevolte. Die transnationalen Proteste waren soziale Bewegungen, analytisch definiert als „Prozess des Protestes“ von Individuen und Gruppen, welche die bestehende Sozial- und Herrschaftsstruktur negierend, grundlegende gesamtgesellschaftliche Veränderungen erstreben und dafür Unterstützung mobilisieren. [4]  Im Mai 1968, so formulierte es der Philosoph Michel de Certeau „on a pris la parole comme on a pris la Bastille en 1789”. Worum ging es? Was stand auf dem Spiel? Ein noch nicht aufgebrauchter „Vorrat an Vertrauen in die Möglichkeit, durch Handeln die Welt zu verändern“, kennzeichnete die Proteste, wie die Philosophin Hannah Arendt urteilte, die von New York aus die Entwicklung der Protestbewegungen in den USA, in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und in Frankreich aufmerksam verfolgte.[5] Handlungsmotivierend und legitimitätsstiftend wirkte die Diskrepanz zwischen der Wirklichkeit und einer imaginierten, ‚anderen‘, neuen Ordnung, geprägt durch zwei Leitideen: Selbstbestimmung/Selbstverwirklichung (autogestion) einerseits und Selbstorganisation/Selbstverwaltung (participatory democracy, Mitbestimmung) andererseits. Um Unterstützung für ihre Ziele zu generieren, sind soziale Bewegungen gezwungen zu agieren und sich aus der Aktion zu formieren. Der Dynamik erzeugende mobilisierende Effekt der 68er Bewegung beruhte jenseits des Charismas ihrer Leitidee auf einer Strategie der direkten performativen Aktion, der begrenzten Regelverletzung. Orientiert an der anarchistischen Bewegung und der künstlerischen Avantgarde – Dadaismus, Surrealismus, bewegten sich die Aktionen oft im Grenzbereich von Legalität und Illegalität. Was passiert im juridischen Feld, wenn eine solche Bewegung entsteht und an Dynamik gewinnt?

Recht „als geschichtlich konstruierte strukturierte Struktur“, trägt, folgt man dem französischen Soziologen Pierre Bourdieu, zur „Produktion der Welt“ bei. „Es ist“, so seine These, daher „nicht übertrieben zu sagen, dass es die soziale Welt macht – wobei es natürlich zuerst von ihr gemacht wird.“[6] Bourdieu definiert das juridische Feld als „Feld von Kämpfen, in dem die Akteure mit je nach ihrer Position in der Struktur des Kraftfeldes unterschiedlichen Mitteln und Zwecken miteinander rivalisieren und auf diese Weise zu Erhalt oder Veränderung seiner Struktur beitragen.“[7] Neben dem Bildungssystem trage das Recht entscheidend zur Reproduktion der bestehenden Machtverhältnisse bei. Wirke es doch an der Festigung von Sicht- und Teilungskriterien mit, welche die Wahrnehmung der sozialen Welt entsprechend den Kriterien der herrschenden Ordnung orientieren. Juristen tragen dergestalt zu dem bei, was Bourdieu die „Suspendierung des Zweifels, die Welt könne eine andere sein“ nennt.[8] Damit steht, die Schlussfolgerung ist klar, das juridische Feld den Zielen sozialer Bewegungen diamental entgegen.

Indes, so Bourdieu, kann auch das juridische Feld – das einer relativen autonomen Logik folgt – potentiell von außen in Bewegung versetzt werden: durch Intellektuelle, soziale Bewegungen und die Kunst. Voltaires Rolle in der Affäre Calas, die ihn zum Vorkämpfer einer Strafrechtsreform machte, sei exemplarisch hervorgehoben.[9] Indes, um der Kritik – artikuliert von Intellektuellen, sozialen Bewegungen, der Kunst – Wirksamkeit zu verleihen, braucht es Vermittler in das Institutionensystem. Voltaire verfügte über solche. Im Fall der Außerparlamentarischen Opposition waren es die Anwälte, die die Justizkritik der 68er Bewegungen verstärkten, indem sie diese, neue Verteidigungsstrategien wie die Konfliktverteidigung erprobend, in den Gerichtsaal experimentell anwandten um hierarchische Strukturen vor Gericht aufzudecken.[10] Neben Anwälten und Richtern zählen auch die Rechtsgelehrten zu den Akteuren im juridischen Feld. Wie positionierten sie sich, konfrontiert mit der 68er Bewegung, die, dies sei nochmals betont, eine transnationale Bewegung war und in Frankreich zu Barrikadenkämpfen und dem größten Generalstreik der Nachkriegszeitführte? Konkret: Was geschah im MPIL? ‚Business as usual‘? Textarbeit im Elfenbeinturm? Keineswegs.

2. Die 68er Bewegung und das MPIL:

“Heidelberg: Vorsorge für die nächste Krise” – “Solidarität mit den Heidelberger Genossen!!” Solidaritätskundgebung von Studierenden in Kiel 1970 anlässlich des Verbots der SDS-Hochschulgruppe in Heidelberg[11]

Das MPIL wurde mit Fragen und Folgen der Bewegung unmittelbar konfrontiert und zur Stellungnahme angeleitet ‚von oben‘, vom Staat. Wie positionierte es sich? Grundsätzlich gilt, folgt man Bourdieu, dass die Stellungnahmen der Akteure im juridischen Feld durch deren Stellung im Feld und die Kräfteverhältnisse innerhalb des Feldes geprägt werden. Auf die Kräfteverhältnisse, die als „Kompetenzkämpfe um die Kompetenz“ sowie „das Recht, Recht zu sprechen“ ausgetragen werden, wirken zwei Faktoren ein: erstens, die Hierarchie der Rechtsinstanzen und der Rechtsgebiete sowie zweitens, die Homologien zwischen dem juridischen Feld und anderen Feldern – wie zum Beispiel die Nähe zum Feld der Macht. Wendet man diese Kriterien auf das MPIL als Akteur an, so verleiht ihm seine Stellung in der Hierarchie der Rechtsgebiete sowie seine Nähe zur Macht eine herausgehobene Position innerhalb des Feldes. Was macht es damit? Als kollektiver Intellektueller in der Tradition Voltaires agiert es nicht.  Es übernimmt die Rolle des „conseiller du prince“, des Fürstenberaters, des Experten, der den Staat berät. Es setzt seine spezifische Kompetenz ein und liefert vergleichende Rechtsgutachten an das Innenministerium. Ruft man in Erinnerung, dass in der Außerparlamentarischen Opposition in der Bundesrepublik Studentenbewegung, Anti‑Notstands‑Opposition und Ostermarschbewegung (Kampagne für Demokratie und Abrüstung) interagierten, so nahm das Institut zu zentralen Themen der Bewegung Stellung.

Erstens: Zur Notstandsgesetzgebung. Die erste Anfrage nach einem rechtsvergleichenden Gutachten zur „Einschränkung der Grundrechte“, wie es in der Korrespondenz heißt, datiert vom 3. Februar 1964.  Der Direktor des MPIL, Hermann Mosler, nahm am 7. Dezember 1967 im Bundestag Stellung zu dem – wie es nun hieß – „Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Ergänzung des Grundgesetzes“[12]. Mosler sprach zu den Abgeordneten über seinen Untersuchungsgegenstand: das Ausnahmerecht in Frankreich.

Zweitens: Zu den neuen Demonstrationsformen, der Besetzung von Straßen und Plätzen. In Auftrag gegeben vom Bundsinnenministerium im Herbst 1969, fertiggestellt unter Einsatz aller Kräfte, wie die Korrespondenz zeigt, im Januar 1970 und schließlich abgeliefert im Februar 1970 wurde das Gutachten zu „Demonstrationsfreiheit und Straßenverkehr“ in Belgien, der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Frankreich, Großbritannien, Italien, den Niederlanden, Österreich, Schweden, der Schweiz und den USA.[13]

Drittens: Zur Forderung der Bewegung nach „direkter Demokratie“. Auf Anfrage des Bundesinnenministeriums im September 1969, mithin eingeleitet noch unter der Großen Koalition, erarbeitet das Institut schließlich ein Gutachten zu „Plebiszitären Elemente im Verfassungsleben europäischer Demokratien“ (1970).

Recht reproduziert, so Bourdieu, bestehende Machtverhältnisse. In welchem Maße gilt das auch für die Rechtsauslegung von Experten? Eine Analyse der Rechtsauslegung durch das MPIL könnte unter anderem prüfen, ob die Expertisen neben der Rekonstruktion der Rechtslage in den Ländern auch die Anwendungspraxis und damit den – nicht nur von der Außerparlamentarischen Opposition angeprangerten – Widerspruch zwischen Verfassungsrecht und Verfassungswirklichkeit (mit)reflektieren. Zu prüfen wäre zudem, welcher Demokratiebegriff den Gutachten zugrunde liegt. Die New Left (Neue Linke, intellektuelle Nouvelle Gauche), die in allen westlichen Industrieländern den Mobilisierungsprozess der 68er-Bewegungen anfachte, richtete sich gegen den vorherrschenden, auf Wahlen beschränkten Demokratiebegriff. Sie setzte der Demokratie als Staats- und Regierungsform ein Demokratieverständnis entgegen, das Mitbestimmung in allen gesellschaftlichen Bereichen, mithin Demokratie als Lebens- und Gesellschaftsform einschloss. Zu prüfen wäre, last but not least, ob, wann und wie das Institut Wege interdisziplinärer Zusammenarbeit zwischen Rechts- und Gesellschaftswissenschaften einschlug (und damit einen Impuls der Bewegung aufnahm), die zu einer neuen Konzeption des Völkerrechts führten.

„Für freie politische Betätigung“. Gottfried Zieger und Institutsmitarbeiter Georg Ress 1975 in der Alten Aula[14]

Bleibt die Frage nach Strukturveränderungen innerhalb des Instituts. In vielen Instituten – darunter den von mir untersuchten in Starnberg und Frankfurt[15] – rebellierten die Mitarbeiter gegen die autoritäre Führung durch die Institutsdirektoren. Auch im „Oberhaus der deutschen Wissenschaft“ (DIE ZEIT), der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, sahen sich die Mitarbeiter unter dem Druck der Ereignisse zu Kritik und Reformforderungen veranlasst. Und: Mitarbeiter aus 37 von 52 Max-Planck-Instituten traten am 9. Mai 1970 in Heidelberg zusammen, um eine „Vertretung der an Max-Planck-Instituten wissenschaftlich Tätigen“ zu etablieren. Sie kritisierten die bestehende Struktur der Max-Planck-Institute als „undemokratische ‚Hierarchie’“.[16] Zur Strukturierung der Arbeit dieser Vertretung wurde ein Ausschuss (Satzungsausschuss) gegründet, der ein Organisationsstatut entwerfen sollte. Waren auch Mitarbeiter des MPIL darunter? Oder, anders gefragt, war es möglich, von der Bewegung nicht bewegt zu sein? Dieter Grimm, Mitarbeiter im MPI für Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt und persönlicher Referent des Institutsdirektor Helmut Coing, erklärte in einem Interview:

„Man konnte den Aktionen der protestierenden Studenten gar nicht entgehen, sie begegneten einem in Demonstrationen, Happenings, Sit-ins, Fassadenbeschriftungen (‚Nehmt Euch die Freiheit der Wissenschaft – forscht, was ihr wollt’, stand lange an einem Universitätsgebäude), auf Hörsaalwänden, die in Protest- oder Ankündigungsflächen verwandelt wurden (‚Heute 16.00 Uhr Demo – kommt massenhaft’ – niemand konnte mehr sagen, welchen Tag das betraf, aber das machte nichts, es galt ja fast jeden Tag). Man musste sich dazu einstellen.“ [17]

Wie standen die Mitarbeiter des MPIL zur Forderung der 68er Bewegung nach mehr Mitbestimmung in der Demokratie? Wie standen sie zu mehr Mitbestimmung im eigenen Haus? Gab Karl Doehrings Verfassungsbeschwerde[18] gegen das baden-württembergische Hochschulgesetz den Takt vor? Wurde das Harnack-Prinzip nicht als Barriere empfunden – angesichts der Rufe „Forscht, was Ihr wollt“? Selbst in der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft waren bereits seit 1969 Reformüberlegungen im Gange. Befürchtend, dass die Unruhe an den Hochschulen auch in ihre Institute übergreifen könnte, hatte der Präsident Adolf Butenandt eine Reformkommission – Strukturkommission genannt – eingesetzt.  Und in der Tat, die Mitarbeiter klagten Mitwirkung ein: bei der Wahl der Institutsdirektoren und der Festlegung der Forschungsprogramme, eine zeitliche Begrenzung und Kontrolle der Institutsleitung, eine Änderung des Systems der Zeitverträge sowie eine kritische Reflexion des Leistungsbegriffs.

Auch aus dem MPIL nahm ein Mitarbeiter an den Beratungen teil, wie ich durch Befragung des Zeitzeugen und Akteurs Dieter Grimm in Erfahrung bringen konnte: Michael Bothe. Ich habe Kontakt zu ihm gesucht. Krankheitsbedingt konnte er meiner Bitte um ein Gespräch nicht nachkommen. Aus Dokumenten im Nachlass von Werner Conze, der 1969/70 Rektor der Universität Heidelberg war, geht jedoch hervor, dass Bothe persönlicher Referent des Rektors war und damit beteiligt an der Einführung einer neuen Grundordnung der Universität Heidelberg, entsprechend dem Hochschulreformgesetzes des Landes.[19] Vielleicht gibt es noch andere damalige Mitarbeiter, die hierzu Stellung nehmen könnten. Ich hoffe darauf, denn es kann doch nicht sein, dass die Rechtsexperten einem abgebrochenen Juristen und seiner (Sprach-)Kritik an den Instanzen des juridischen Feldes das letzte Wort belassen, nämlich Peter Handke in Ich bin ein Bewohner des Elfenbeinturms.[20] Eingehen kann ich auf diesen Text nicht, abschließen aber möchte ich mit den Worten, die Handke am Ende seiner Publikumsbeschimpfung in Bewegung setzte, um die vierte Wand (zwischen Bühne und Publikum) aufzubrechen und die den Zeitgeist von 1968 spiegeln:

„…. Ihr Leuchten der Wissenschaft. Ihr vertrottelten Adeligen. Ihr verrottetes Bürgertum. Ihr gebildeten Klassen. Ihr Menschen unserer Zeit. Ihr Rufer in der Wüste. […] Ihr Jammergestalten. Ihr historischen Augenblicke. Ihr Oberhäupter. Ihr Unternehmer. Ihr Eminenzen. Ihr Exzellenzen. Du Heiligkeit. Ihr Durchlauchten. Ihr Erlauchten. Ihr gekrönten Häupter. Ihr Krämerseelen. Ihr Ja-und-Nein-Sager. Ihr Neinsager. Ihr Baumeister der Zukunft. Ihr Garanten für eine bessere Welt. Ihr Unterweltler. Ihr Nimmersatt. Ihr Siebengescheiten. Ihr Neunmalklugen. Ihr Lebensbejaher. Ihr Damen und Herren ihr, ihr Persönlichkeiten des öffentlichen und kulturellen Lebens ihr, ihr Anwesenden ihr, ihr Brüder und Schwestern ihr, ihr Genossen ihr, ihre werten Zuhörer ihr, ihr Mitmenschen ihr.

       Sie waren willkommen. Wir danken Ihnen. Gute Nacht.“[21]

[1] Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Erinnerungen an einen Tumult. Zu einem Tagebuch aus dem Jahr 1968, in: Rudolf Sievers (Hrsg.), 1968. Eine Enzyklopädie, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2004, 23-26, 23, 25.

[2] Katja Nagel, Die Provinz in Bewegung. Studentenunruhen in Heidelberg 1967-1973, Heidelberg: Gunderjahn 2009; Dietrich Hildebrandt, „und die Studenten freien sich!“. Studentenbewegung in Heidelberg 1967-973, Heidelberg: esprit 1991.

[3] Eine bemerkenswerte Ausnahme stellt der Briefwechsel Hartmut Schiedermairs (Habilitant von Herrmann Mosler) mit Helmut Ridder dar, veröffentlicht unter dem Titel: Die Heidelberger Rechtsfakultät im Jahre 1970 – Ein Briefwechsel, Kritische Justiz 3 (1970), 335-339; zudem sei verwiesen auf die 2008 erschienenen Erinnerungen Karl Doehrings an die Studentenbewegung: Karl Doehring, Von der Weimarer Republik zur Europäischen Union. Erinnerungen, Berlin: wjs 2008, 137-152.

[4] Friedhelm Neidhardt/Dieter Rucht, The Analyses of Social Movements: The State of the Art and some Perspectives of further Research, in: Dieter Rucht (Hrsg.), Research on Social Movements: The State of the Art in Europe and the USA, Frankfurt am Main: Westview Press 1991, 421-464, 450; Roland Roth (Hrsg.), Die sozialen Bewegungen in Deutschland seit 1945. Ein Handbuch, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag 2008, 13; vgl. auch Ron Eyerman, How social movements move, in: Jeffrey Alexander/Bernhard Giesen/Jason L. Mast (Hrsg.), Social Performance. Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006, 193-217, 195.

[5] Hannah Arendt, Macht und Gewalt, München: Piper 1970, 19.

[6]Pierre Bourdieu, Die Kraft des Rechts. Elemente einer Soziologie des juridischen Feldes, in: Andrea Kretschmann (Hrsg.), Das Rechtsdenken Pierre Bourdieus, Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft 2019, 35–78, 60.

[7] Pierre Bourdieu, Praktische Vernunft. Zur Theorie des Handelns, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1998, 18.

[8] Pierre Bourdieu, Zur Kritik der scholastischen Vernunft, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2001, 221.

[9] Vgl. Voltaire, Die Affäre Calas, herausgegeben und mit einem Nachwort versehen von Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, Berlin: Insel 2010.

[10] Vgl. dazu Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, Einleitung, in: Gisela Diewald-Kerkmann/Ingrid Holtey (Hrsg.), Zwischen den Fronten. Verteidiger, Richter und Bundesanwälte im Spannungsfeld von Justiz, Politik, APO und RAF, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot 2013, 7-13.

[11] Foto: Stadtarchiv Kiel, 22.135/Magnussen, Friedrich, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

[12] Hervorhebung durch die Autorin.

[13] Mitarbeiter waren Albert Bleckmann, Konrad Buschbeck, John D. Gorby, Meinhard Hilf, Klaus Holderbaum, Alfred Maier, Georg Ress, Axel Werbke. Das Gutachten wurde als Buch veröffentlicht unter dem Titel: MPI für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (Hrsg.), Demonstration und Straßenverkehr. Landesberichte und Rechtsvergleichung, Berlin: Carl Heymanns 1970.

[14] Foto: MPIL.

[15] Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, Verfassung gestern: Rebell in Robe. Dieter Grimm zum 80. Geburtstag – ein Vortrag geschrieben für mehrere Stimmen, in: Ulrike Davy/Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff (Hrsg.), Verfassung: Geschichte, Gegenwart, Zukunft.  Autorenkolloquium mit Dieter Grimm, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2018, 45-61.

[16] Helmut Coing, Für Wissenschaften und Künste. Lebensbericht eines europäischen Rechtsgelehrten, herausgegeben und kommentiert von Michael F. Feldkamp, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2014, 212.

[17] Dieter Grimm, „Ich bin ein Freund der Verfassung“. Dieter Grimm im Gespräch mit Oliver Lepsius, Christian Waldhoff, Matthias Roßbach, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017, 74-75.

[18] ACC 48/16, Ak-Nr.1, Nachlass Karl Doehring, Universitätsarchiv Heidelberg.

[19] Brief von Werner Conze an das Kultusministerium Baden-Württemberg, datiert 30. Juli 1969, Nachlass Werner Conze, Universitätsarchiv Heidelberg, Ref. 101/32.

[20] Peter Handke, Ich bin ein Bewohner des Elfenbeinturms, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1972.

[21] Peter Handke, Publikumsbeschimpfung und andere Sprechstücke, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1967, 47-48.

English

Prologue

“1968 is a date in which the imaginary has ensconced itself” wrote the author and essayist Hans Magnus Enzensberger, who as editor of the Kursbuch (roughly: “textbook”, a key cultural and political publication of the time) was one of the spokespersons of the extra‑parliamentary opposition (Außerparlamentarische Opposition, APO) in the Federal Republic of Germany, in notes for his 1968 diary. In 1968, “the forbidden sentences took to the streets”, he noted: “Two thousand, twenty thousand, two hundred thousand words, processions, resolutions [ …]  The contradictions towered to heaven. Every attempt to make the tumult intelligible had to end in ideological gibberish.”[1] The words that took to the streets – an apt metaphor to underline the novelty of the occupation of streets and squares – did not spare Heidelberg. Loud protests and performative happenings began after 2 June 1967 and continued long after the mobilisation had died down in other places, leading to the coining of the term “Heidelgrad”.[2] How did the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (MPIL) position itself in and in relation to the conflicts? Did it act as a bastion in troubled waters? Did it continue its work, far from the old town (Altstadt, where most university buildings are located), in a kind of ivory tower? At first glance, it would appear so, but a well‑founded study of the institute against the backdrop of the critical events of 1967 to 1970 is still lacking. Moreover, in order to produce such a study, there are no records, statements, recollections of the staff of the institute during these years – unlike other institutes, I have no commentaries by the assistants, no contemporary ones, no retrospective ones.[3] Last but not least, a systematic search for minutes of discussions and meetings, notes, flyers, posters and photos is still pending. This contribution on the role of the institute in the mobilisation process of the 1968 movement can therefore only be an approximation in the subjunctive. It is guided by two analytical frames of reference: Pierre Bourdieu’s reflections on the juridical field and the questions and hypotheses of social movement research. It is subdivided into two points.

1. Social Movements and the Juridical Field

The wave of protests culminating in almost all industrialised Western countries in 1968 was more than just a student or generational revolt. The transnational protests were social movements, analytically defined as a “process of protest” by individuals and groups who, rejecting the existing social and power structure, sought fundamental changes in society as a whole and mobilised support for them.[4]  In May 1968, as the philosopher Michel de Certeau put it, “on a pris la parole comme on a pris la Bastille en 1789“. What was all of that about? What was at stake? The protests were characterised by a by a “reserve of trust in the possibility of changing the world through action” that had not yet been used up as the philosopher Hannah Arendt put it who closely followed the development of protest movements in the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany and France from New York.[5] Fuel for mobilisation and source of legitimacy was the discrepancy between reality and an imagined, ‘different’, new order, characterised by two guiding principles: self‑determination/self-realisation (Selbstbestimmung/Selbstverwirklichung/autogestion) on the one hand and participatory democracy (Selbstorganisation/Selbstverwaltung/Mitbestimmung) on the other. In order to generate support for their goals, social movements are forced to act and form themselves out of action. Beyond the charisma of its central idea, the dynamic mobilising effect of the 1968 movement was based on a strategy of direct performative action, of limited rule-breaking. Inspired by the anarchist movement and the artistic avant-garde – Dadaism, Surrealism – the actions were often situated in the grey zone between legality and illegality. What happens in the legal field when such a movement emerges and gains momentum?

According to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, law is a “structured structure[…], historically constituted ” and contributes to the “production of the world”. According to his thesis, it “would not be excessive to say that it creates the social world, but only if we remember that it is this world which first creates the law.”[6] Bourdieu defines the juridical field as a “field of struggles in which actors compete with each other with different means and ends depending on their position in the structure of the force field and in this way contribute to maintaining or changing its structure.”[7] Alongside the education system, the law makes a decisive contribution to the reproduction of existing power relations, according to Bourdieu. After all, it contributes to the consolidation of criteria of vision and division that orientate the perception of the social world according to the criteria of the prevailing order. In this way, jurists contribute to what Bourdieu calls the “suspension of doubt that the world could be a different one”.[8] Accordingly, the conclusion is clear: the legal field is diametrically opposed to the goals of social movements.

However, according to Bourdieu, the juridical field – which follows a relatively autonomous logic – can potentially be set in motion from the outside: by intellectuals, social movements and art. Voltaire’s role in the Calas affair, which made him a pioneer of criminal law reform, should be emphasised as an example.[9] However, in order for criticism – articulated by intellectuals, social movements and the arts – to be effective, mediators are needed in the institutional system. Voltaire had such mediators. In the case of the extra-parliamentary opposition, it was the lawyers who reinforced the judicial criticism of the 1968 movement by experimenting with new defence strategies such as Konfliktverteidigung (roughly: “confrontational defence”, a strategy of criminal lawyers to call into question not just the legitimacy of the charges at hand, but of the court as a whole) in order to expose hierarchical structures in court.[10] In addition to lawyers and judges, legal scholars were also among the actors in the legal field. How did they position themselves when confronted with the 1968 movement, which, it should be emphasised once again, was a transnational phenomenon and led to barricade struggles in France and the largest general strike of the post-war period? Specifically: What happened at the MPIL? Business as usual? Scholarly work in an ivory tower? Not at all.

2. The 68 Movement and the MPIL

Solidarity rally by students in Kiel in 1970 on the occasion of the ban on the SDS (Socialist German Students’ League) university group in Heidelberg. The banners read: “Heidelberg: Precautions for the next crisis” and “Solidarity with Heidelberg comrades!!” (Foto: Stadtarchiv Kiel, 22.135/Magnussen, Friedrich, CC-BY-SA 3.0.)[11]

The MPIL was directly confronted with the questions and consequences of the movement and instructed ‘from above’, by the state, to take a stand. How did it position itself? Basically, according to Bourdieu, statements of the actors in the legal field are determined by their position in the field and the balance of power within it. Two factors influence the balance of power, which is formed by “competence struggles over competence” and “the right to adjudicate”: firstly, the hierarchy of courts and fields of law, and secondly, the homologies between the legal field and other fields – such as the proximity to the field of power. If these criteria are applied to the MPIL as an actor, its position in the hierarchy of legal fields and its proximity to power give it a prominent position within the field. What does it do with this? It does not act as a collective intellectual in the tradition of Voltaire.  It takes on the role of the “conseiller du prince“, the prince’s counsellor, the expert who advises the state. It uses its specific expertise and provides comparative legal opinions to the Ministry of the Interior. If one recalls that in the extra-parliamentary opposition in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Studentenbewegung (student movement), the movement against the proposed Notstandsgesetze (German Emergency Acts, reintroducing martial law into the constitution) and the Ostermarschbewegung (“Easter march movement”, a campaign for democracy and disarmament) interacted, the institute took a stand on central issues of the movement.

Firstly, on the German Emergency Acts. The first request for a comparative legal opinion on the “restriction of fundamental rights”, as it is called in the correspondence, is dated 3 February 1964. The director of the MPIL, Hermann Mosler, gave a statement in the Bundestag on 7 December 1967 on what was now called the “draft law to supplement the Basic Law” (“Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Ergänzung des Grundgesetzes“)[12]. Mosler spoke to the members of parliament about the subject of his enquiry: martial law in France.

Secondly, on the new forms of demonstration, the occupation of streets and squares. Commissioned by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in autumn 1969, completed in January 1970, as the correspondence shows, and finally delivered in February 1970, the report on “Freedom of demonstration and road traffic” („Demonstrationsfreiheit und Straßenverkehr“) covered the legal situation in Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.[13]

Thirdly, on the movement’s demand for “direct democracy”. At the request of the Federal Ministry of the Interior in September 1969, i.e. initiated still under the “grand coalition” of Germany’s two major parties at the time, the institute finally drafted an expert report on “Plebiscitary elements in the constitutional life of European democracies” („Plebiszitären Elemente im Verfassungsleben europäischer Demokratien“, 1970).

According to Bourdieu, law reproduces existing power relations. To what extent does this also apply to the interpretation of the law by experts? An analysis of the interpretation of the law by the MPIL could examine, among other things, whether the expert opinions, in addition to reconstructing the legal situation in other states, also reflect (on) the application practice and thus the contradiction between constitutional law and constitutional reality, denounced not only by the extra-parliamentary opposition. The concept of democracy on which the expert opinions are based should also be examined.  The New Left (Neue Linke, intellectual Nouvelle Gauche), which fuelled the mobilisation process of the 1968 movements in all Western industrialised countries, opposed the prevailing concept of democracy, reduced to elections. It sought to replace the understanding of democracy as a form of state and government with an understanding of democracy built on participation in all areas of society, i.e. democracy as a way of life and a social order. Last but not least, it should be examined whether, when and how the institute embarked on paths of interdisciplinary cooperation between law and social sciences (and thus took up an impulse of the movement) that led to a new conception of international law.

Gottfried Zieger and member of the institute Georg Ress at Heidelberg University in 1975. The graffiti in the background reads: “For free research”[14]

This leaves the question of structural changes within the institute. In many MPIs – including the ones I studied in Starnberg and Frankfurt[15] – the staff rebelled against the authoritarian leadership of the directors. Even within the Max Planck Society, the “House of Lords of German science” (as it was called by the German newspaper DIE ZEIT), employees felt compelled by the pressure of events to criticise and demand reform. And: employees from 37 of the 52 Max Planck Institutes met in Heidelberg on 9 May 1970 to establish a “Representation of Scientific Staff at Max Planck Institutes” („Vertretung der an Max-Planck-Instituten wissenschaftlich Tätigen“). They criticised the existing structure of the Max Planck Institutes as an “undemocratic ‘hierarchy'”.[16] To structure the work of this representation, a Statutory Committee (Satzungsausschuss) was set up to draft an organisational statute. Were employees of the MPIL among them? Or, to put it another way, was it possible not to be moved by the movement? Dieter Grimm, a member of staff at the MPI for Legal History in Frankfurt and personal advisor to the institute’s director Helmut Coing, explained in an interview:

“You couldn’t escape the events of the protesting students, you encountered them in demonstrations, happenings, sit-ins, graffities (‘Take your freedom of science – research what you want’ was written on a university building for a long time), on lecture hall walls, which were transformed into protest or announcement areas (‘Demonstration, today 16.00 – all come’ – no one could tell which day that was, but that did not matter, it applied almost every day). You had to take a stance.” [17]

How did the staff of the MPIL view the demands of the 1968 movement for more participation in democracy? How did they feel about more participation in their own institute? Did Karl Doehring’s constitutional complaint (Verfassungsbeschwerde)[18] against the University Reform Act (Hochschulreformgesetz) of Baden-Württemberg set the pace? Was the Harnack principle not perceived as a barrier – in view of the calls to “research what you want”? Even in the Max Planck Society, reform considerations had been underway since 1969. Fearing that the unrest at the universities could spread to their institutes, President Adolf Butenandt had set up a reform commission – known as the Strukturkommission (Commission on Structure).  And indeed, the employees demanded participation: in the election of institute directors and the definition of research programmes, a time limit and control of institute management, a change in the system of temporary contracts and a critical reflection on the conceptualization of performance.

An employee from the MPIL also took part in the consultations, as I was able to find out by interviewing the contemporary witness and actor Dieter Grimm: Michael Bothe. I sought contact with him. Due to illness, he was unable to fulfil my request for an interview. However, documents in the estate of Werner Conze, who was Rector of the University of Heidelberg in 1969/70, show that Bothe was the Rector’s personal advisor and thus involved in the introduction of a new Grundordnung (basic regulations) for the University of Heidelberg in accordance with the University Reform Act.[19] Perhaps there are other former employees who could comment on this. I hope so, or legal experts will have to leave the last word to a law school dropout and his (linguistic) criticism of the authorities in the legal field, namely Peter Handke in Ich bin ein Bewohner des Elfenbeinturms.[20] I cannot go into detail about this text, but I would like to conclude with the words that Handke set in motion at the end of his play “Offending the Audience” in order to break down the fourth wall (between stage and audience) and which reflect the zeitgeist of 1968:

You luminaries of science. You beacons in the dark. You educated gasbags. You cultivated classes. You befuddled aristocrats. You rotten middle class. You lowbrows. You people of our time. You children of the world. […] You wretches. You congressmen. You commissioners. You scoundrels. You generals. You lobbyists. You Chief of Staff. You chairmen of this and that. You tax evaders. You presidential advisers. You U-2 pilots. You agents. You corporate-military establishment. You entrepreneurs. You Eminencies. You Excellencies. You Holiness. Mr- President. You crowned heads. You pushers. You architects of the future. You builders of a better world. You mafiosos. You wiseacres. You smart‑alecs. You who embrace life. You who detest life. You who have no feeling about life. You ladies and gents you, you celebrities of public and cultural life you, you who are present, you brothers and sisters you, you comrades you, you worthy listeners you, you fellow humans you.

          You were welcome here. We thank you. Good night.[21]

Translation from the German original: Sarah Gebel

[1] Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Erinnerungen an einen Tumult. Zu einem Tagebuch aus dem Jahr 1968, in: Rudolf Sievers (ed.), 1968. Eine Enzyklopädie, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2004, 23-26, 23, 25, translated by the editor.

[2] Katja Nagel, Die Provinz in Bewegung. Studentenunruhen in Heidelberg 1967-1973, Heidelberg: Gunderjahn 2009; Dietrich Hildebrandt, „und die Studenten freien sich!“. Studentenbewegung in Heidelberg 1967-973, Heidelberg: esprit 1991.

[3] One notable exception is the correspondence between Hartmut Schiedermair (habilitation student of Herrmann Mosler) and Helmut Ridder, which was published under the title: Die Heidelberger Rechtsfakultät im Jahre 1970 – Ein Briefwechsel, Kritische Justiz 3 (1970), 335-339; see also Karl Doehrings memories of the student movement as described in his 2008 memoir: Karl Doehring, Von der Weimarer Republik zur Europäischen Union. Erinnerungen, Berlin: wjs 2008, 137-152.

[4] Friedhelm Neidhardt/Dieter Rucht, The Analyses of Social Movements: The State of the Art and some Perspectives of further Research, in: Dieter Rucht (ed), Research on Social Movements: The State of the Art in Europe and the USA, Frankfurt am Main: Westview Press 1991, 421-464, 450; Roland Roth (ed), Die sozialen Bewegungen in Deutschland seit 1945. Ein Handbuch, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag 2008, 13; Cf. Ron Eyerman, How social movements move, in: Jeffrey Alexander/Bernhard Giesen/Jason L. Mast (eds), Social Performance. Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2006, 193-217, 195.

[5] Hannah Arendt, Macht und Gewalt, München: Piper 1970, 19, translated by the editor; this work was also published in English as: Hannah Arendt, On Violence, San Diego: HBJ Book 1970.

[6] Pierre Bourdieu, The Power of Law. Elements of a sociology of the juridical field, Hastings Law Journal 38(1987), 814-853, 839.

[7] Pierre Bourdieu, Praktische Vernunft. Zur Theorie des Handelns, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1998, 18, translated by the editor.

[8] Pierre Bourdieu, Zur Kritik der scholastischen Vernunft, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 2001, 221, translated by the editor.

[9] Cf. Voltaire, Die Affäre Calas, edited and with an epilogue by Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, Berlin: Insel 2010.

[10] Cf. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, Einleitung, in: Gisela Diewald-Kerkmann/Ingrid Holtey (eds), Zwischen den Fronten. Verteidiger, Richter und Bundesanwälte im Spannungsfeld von Justiz, Politik, APO und RAF, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot 2013, 7-13.

[11] Photo: Stadtarchiv Kiel, 22.135/Magnussen, Friedrich, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

[12] Emphasis added by the author.

[13] Contributors were Albert Bleckmann, Konrad Buschbeck, John D. Gorby, Meinhard Hilf, Klaus Holderbaum, Alfred Maier, Georg Ress, Axel Werbke. The expert opinion was published as a book under the title: MPI für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (ed), Demonstration und Straßenverkehr. Landesberichte und Rechtsvergleichung, Berlin: Carl Heymanns 1970.

[14] Foto: MPIL.

[15] Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, Verfassung gestern: Rebell in Robe. Dieter Grimm zum 80. Geburtstag – ein Vortrag geschrieben für mehrere Stimmen, in: Ulrike Davy/Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff (eds.), Verfassung: Geschichte, Gegenwart, Zukunft.  Autorenkolloquium mit Dieter Grimm, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2018, 45-61.

[16] Helmut Coing, Für Wissenschaften und Künste. Lebensbericht eines europäischen Rechtsgelehrten, edited and annotated by Michael F. Feldkamp, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2014, 212.

[17] Dieter Grimm, „Ich bin ein Freund der Verfassung“. Dieter Grimm im Gespräch mit Oliver Lepsius, Christian Waldhoff, Matthias Roßbach, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017, 74-75, translated by the editor.

[18] ACC 48/16, Ak-Nr.1, Estate of Karl Doehring, Heidelberg University Archive.

[19] Letter by Werner Conze to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Education, dated 30 July 1969, Estate of Werner Conze, Heidelberg University Archive, Ref 101/32.

[20] Peter Handke, Ich bin ein Bewohner des Elfenbeinturms, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1972; the title translates to „I am an inhabitant of the ivory tower”.

[21] Peter Handke, Publikumsbeschimpfung, translation following: Peter Handke, Offending the Audience and Self-Accusation, translated by Michael Roloff, London: Methuen & Co Ltd 1971, 38.

Die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte der Zwischenkriegszeit

The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals of the Interwar Period

Un grand procès international: The inaugural hearing of the deportees’ case before the German‑Belgian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal on 7 January 1924 at the Hôtel de Matignon in Paris. In the background, from left to right: Alfred Lenhard, Richard Hoene, Paul Moriaud, Albéric Rolin and the Belgian State Agents Henri Gevers and Georges Sartini van den Kerckhove. In the foreground: the German Secretary Walther Uppenkamp (left) and his Belgian colleague Jean Stevens (right) [Meurisse news agency, gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France]

Deutsch

Wie ein internationales Medienphänomen zum „Nicht-Erinnerungsort“ der Völkerrechtswissenschaft verkam – und seine Wiederentdeckung heute unser Verständnis von transnationalen Mobilisierungen verändern könnte

Am Morgen des 7. Januar 1924 begab sich ein Fotograf der Presseagentur Meurisse ins Pariser Hôtel de Matignon. Nicht etwa, um dort einer offiziellen Erklärung des Premierministers beizuwohnen – erst 1935 wurde das Stadtpalais zur offiziellen Residenz der französischen Regierungschefs. Der Pressefotograf sollte vielmehr ein damals neuartiges Spektakel ablichten, das die Brüsseler Tageszeitung Le Soir ihren Lesern als „grand procès international“ – als „großen internationalen Prozess“ – angekündigt hatte.[1]

Letzterer sollte vor dem auf Grund des Versailler Vertrages geschaffenen Deutsch‑Belgischen Gemischten Schiedsgericht stattfinden, dessen ständige Mitglieder der Genfer Rechtsgelehrte Paul Moriaud, sein namhafter belgischer Kollege Albéric Rolin und Senatspräsident Richard Hoene aus Frankfurt waren. Kläger waren zehn Belgier, die im Laufe des Krieges von Deutschland als Zwangsarbeiter deportiert worden waren und nun vom Reich eine Entschädigung verlangten. Einer der Kläger, der noch immer von seiner Gefangenschaft gezeichnete 38‑jährige Jules Loriaux, hatte den Weg nach Paris angetreten. Vertreten wurden er und seine Leidensgenossen durch den 33‑jährigen Brüsseler Anwalt Jacques Pirenne und dessen Mentor, den ehemaligen belgischen Außenminister Paul Hymans. Das Deutsche Reich hatte seinerseits nicht nur auf seinen Staatsvertreter, Senatspräsident Alfred Lenhard, sondern, wie üblich bei besonders wichtigen Fällen, zusätzlich auf einen Rechtsanwalt zurückgegriffen – in diesem Falle auf den später durch die NS-Rassenpolitik ins Exil getriebenen Max Illch aus Berlin, dessen akzentfreies Französisch von der Presse besonders hervorgehoben wurde.

Der Pariser Deportiertenprozess entsprach dem, was Karen J. Alter und Mikael Rask Madsen heute als „the international adjudication of mega-politics“ bezeichnen.[2] Hätte das Deutsche Reich damals diesen Prozess verloren, hätten ihm zehntausende solcher Klagen und Entschädigungsforderungen in Höhe von rund fünf Millionen Francs gedroht, das heißt das Zehnfache der Belgien für seine zivilen Kriegsopfer bereits versprochenen Summe.[3]

Das Deutsch-Belgische Gemischte Schiedsgericht war nur eines von siebzehn solcher Schiedsgerichte, die damals im Hôtel de Matignon einquartiert waren. Diese stellten damals ein Novum dar. Sieht man von dem schmalbrüstigen Zentralamerikanischen Gerichtshof ab, der zwischen 1907 und 1918 gerade einmal zehn Fälle behandelte, waren sie die ersten tatsächlich funktionierenden internationalen Gerichte vor denen Individuen gegen einen ausländischen – und teils sogar gegen den eigenen – Staat klagen konnten. Im Gegensatz zu ihrem zentralamerikanischen Vorgänger waren sie ein Massenphänomen: insgesamt gab es 39 Gemischte Schiedsgerichte, die grob geschätzt zwischen 90.000 und 100.000 Fälle behandelten – einige davon noch nach Kriegsausbruch 1939. Dieser Masse an, insbesondere für Deutschland, oft hochbrisanten Streitfällen verdankten auch das (Kaiser-Wilhelm-) Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (1924) und jenes für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht (1926) zumindest teilweise ihre Existenz und fortwährende staatliche Unterstützung.[4] Angesichts dieser Fakten scheint es umso verwunderlicher, dass die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts fast gänzlich aus dem kollektiven Gedächtnis der Völkerrechtler verschwanden.

Die Gründe hierfür mögen vielfältiger Natur sein. Der Verruf, in den die für gescheitert erklärten internationalen Gebilde der Pariser Friedensordnung geraten waren, dürfte ebenso dazu gehören wie der üble Nachgeschmack, den insbesondere die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte bei den vor ihnen teils diskriminierten ehemaligen Mittelmächten, aber auch bei verschiedenen Alliierten – besonders in Mittel- und Südosteuropa – hinterlassen hatten. Auch dem Willen, den europäischen Wiederaufbau- und Einigungsprozess unter das Zeichen eines Neuanfangs zu stellen, wäre mit längeren Verweisen auf die in puncto Völkerversöhnung doch recht durchwachsene Bilanz der „Tribunaux arbitraux mixtes“ wohl kaum gedient gewesen. Auf Historiker dürfte nicht nur die Masse, sondern auch die technische Komplexität des lange noch reichlich vorhandenen Archivmaterials eine abschreckende Wirkung gehabt haben.

Fakt ist, dass, nach einer wahren Publikationsflut in der Zwischenkriegszeit, zwischen 1947[5] und den späten 2010er Jahren fast nichts zu diesem Thema erschienen ist. Im Gegensatz zu den, mit ihnen oft verglichenen, Gemischten Kommissionen, die sich insbesondere bei Anhängern der internationalen Investitionsschiedsgerichtsbarkeit stets großer Beliebtheit erfreut haben, entsprachen die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte damit durchaus dem vom französischen Sozio‑Historiker Gérard Noiriel geprägten Begriff eines „Nicht Erinnerungsorts“, eines „non‑lieu de mémoire[6] – in anderen Worten, einem kollektiven Gedächtnisschwund der Völkerrechtsgemeinschaft. Wie real dieser Gedächtnisschwund war, verdeutlicht sich, wenn man bedenkt, dass das aus 40 größeren Kisten bestehende und mehrere Tonnen wiegende Archiv der Pariser und mehrerer anderer Gemischter Schiedsgerichte, dass den Weltkrieg nahezu intakt überstanden hatte, irgendwann Ende der 1970er oder Anfang der 1980er Jahre von der Bibliothek im Haager Friedenspalast ausgesondert wurde.[7]

Auch wenn große Teile der Hinterlassenschaft der Gemischten Schiedsgerichte damit für immer verloren sein dürften, so gibt es heute zumindest wieder Interesse an einer tiefgehenden Wiederaufarbeitung dieser Institutionen. Bahnbrechend sind hier vor allem Jakob Zollmanns Forschungen gewesen.[8] Darüber hinaus haben einige Publikationen anlässlich des 100. Jahrestages der Pariser Verträge, unter anderem von Marta Requejo Isidro und Burkhard Hess[9] sowie von August Reinisch,[10] es den Gemischten Schiedsgerichten zumindest ansatzweise erlaubt, den Rückweg in das Bewusstsein des völkerrechtlichen Mainstreams anzutreten. Diese Tendenz weiter zu verstärken und auszuweiten war auch das Vorhaben des Sammelbandes, den ich im April 2023 zusammen mit Hélène Ruiz Fabri herausgegeben habe und der das erste Buch zu diesem Thema seit 1947 darstellt.[11]

Die bereits in dieser Publikation vertretenen Ansätze können durchaus noch ausgebaut werden. Fünf Themenkomplexe erscheinen mir in dieser Hinsicht besonders vielversprechend – unter anderem deshalb, weil sie auch neueren methodologischen Ausrichtungen ein weites Betätigungsfeld bieten können, vor allem im Bereich der Sozio-Rechtsgeschichte. Hier denke ich insbesondere an die von Natasha Wheatley[12] und Jessica Marglin[13] veröffentlichten Arbeiten über die Mobilisierung des Völkerrechts und internationaler Institutionen sowohl durch Eliten als durch Graswurzelbewegungen. Aber auch klassischere rechtsgeschichtliche und biographische Herangehensweisen unter Herbeiziehung von Archivmaterial wären hier möglich.

1. Die Bedeutung der Gemischten Schiedsgerichte für das Auswärtige Amt und das KWI

Aus der Rechtsabteilung des Auswärtigen Amts ausgeschieden: Briefkopf des auch als „Schiedsgerichtsabteilung“ bekannten Kommissariats Otto Göpperts (1931) [14]

Dieser Themenkomplex ist natürlich von besonderer Relevanz für die Aufarbeitung der Geschichte des  Kaiser Wilhelm Instituts (KWI) für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, welches seine Existenz zu einem guten Teil dem Bedürfnis der Weimarer Republik nach einer sowohl personell als argumentativ angemessenen Vertretung vor den Gemischten Schiedsgerichten verdankt. Einige KWI-Mitglieder wirkten sogar direkt an Gemischten Schiedsgerichten mit. So war der KWI-Direktor Viktor Bruns Schiedsrichter von 1927 bis 1931 am Deutsch‑Polnischen und auch am Deutsch‑Tschechoslowakischen Gemischten Schiedsgericht. Sein Kollege Erich Kaufmann war um die gleiche Zeit deutscher Staatsvertreter unter anderem vor dem Deutsch‑Polnischen Gemischten Schiedsgericht. Beiden Professoren assistierte hierbei Carlo Schmid, der von 1927 bis 1929 Referent am KWI war.[15] Das Ergebnis dieser beratenden Tätigkeit war zum Teil widersprüchlich. Wie bereits durch Jakob Zollmann aufgezeigt, trug das KWI zwar durch seine Publikationen und Gutachten wesentlich dazu bei, die Qualität der durch die deutschen Staatsvertreter vorgebrachten völkerrechtlichen Argumente zu verbessern, verfestigte aber auch innerhalb Deutschlands das Verständnis der Versailler Friedensordnung als eines grundlegend ungerechten „Diktats“. Um diese Dynamik eingehender zu beleuchten, wäre es sicher auch angebracht, eine Studie über das 1923 innerhalb des Auswärtigen Amtes geschaffene „Kommissariat für die Gemischten Schiedsgerichtshöfe und die Staatsvertretungen“ anzustrengen, das unter der Leitung von Dr. Otto Göppert stand und zeitweise über 300 Mitarbeiter beschäftigte, darunter über 70 Juristen.[16] Die Arbeit dieses Kommissariats und seiner Mitarbeiter näher zu erforschen dürfte nicht nur für das Verständnis der deutschen Völkerrechtsdiplomatie in der Zwischenkriegszeit interessant sein, sondern es auch erlauben, Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten mit der Nachkriegszeit aufzuzeigen, insbesondere im Hinblick auf den europäischen Einigungsprozess.

2. Die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte und das internationale Privatrecht

Ernst Rabel (1874‑1955) war nicht nur von 1926 bis 1937 Leiter des KWI für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht, sondern auch von 1921 bis 1930 Mitglied des Deutsch‑Italienischen Gemischten Schiedsgerichts mit Sitz in Rom.[17]

Da die Zuständigkeit der Gemischten Schiedsgerichte sich auch auf Fragen des internationalen Privatrechts erstreckte, hegten manche zeitgenössischen Juristen wie zum Beispiel. Jean‑Paulin Niboyet den Wunsch, dass die von ihnen entwickelte Rechtsprechung zu einer Harmonisierung der in den verschiedenen europäischen Staaten geltenden Regeln führen würde.[18] Obwohl diese Vorstellung sich nicht verwirklichen sollte, könnten die damaligen Diskussionen trotzdem für heutige Spezialisten des internationalen Privatrechts interessant sein. Darüber hinaus wurde das KWI für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht 1926 ebenfalls mit Hinblick auf die sich vor den Gemischten Schiedsgerichten stellenden Rechtsfragen gegründet und hatte mit Ernst Rabel – ähnlich wie sein völkerrechtliches Pendant mit Viktor Bruns – einen Direktor, der als Schiedsrichter an einem solchen Gericht fungierte. Die Erforschung dieser Zusammenarbeit dürfte sicher weitere interessante Erkenntnisse über das Verhältnis zwischen Rechtswissenschaft und Politik im Deutschland der Zwischenkriegszeit liefern.

3. Die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte und die Entstehung einer transnationalen juristischen Öffentlichkeit

Ein internationales Medienereignis: Kläger und Publikum zum Auftakt des Pariser Deportiertenprozesses am 7. Januar 1924. Im Vordergrund die Anwälte Jacques Pirenne (links) und Paul Hymans (rechts). Im Hintergrund der Hauptkläger Jules Loriaux (zweiter v.  r., mit Gehstock) [19]

Angesichts der Anzahl der vor ihnen verhandelten Fälle und der teils beträchtlichen damit verbundenen finanziellen und politischen Konsequenzen, schufen die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte ein neues transnationales Betätigungsfeld, das sowohl von Angehörigen von Rechtsberufen wie von Teilen der Zivilgesellschaft wahrgenommen wurde. Da die Verhandlungen vor den Gemischten Schiedsgerichten öffentlich waren, auch von der Presse kommentiert wurden und sogar Schaulustige anzogen, kann man hier durchaus von einer transnationalen juristischen Öffentlichkeit sprechen. Dieser Faktor erlaubte es unter anderem, dass eher unprivilegierte Akteure, wie zum Beispiel Kriegsgeschädigte, die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte dafür benutzten, ihre Interessen gegen ehemalige Feindstaaten – oder gar gegen ihren eigenen Staat – durchzusetzen oder zumindest zur Sprache zu bringen. Einige dieser Verfahren, wie etwa der anfangs erwähnte Deportiertenprozess vor dem Deutsch‑Belgischen Gemischten Schiedsgericht, wurden auch medial transnational rezipiert.

Aber auch Teilen der Eliten boten die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte neue Möglichkeiten. Insbesondere Paris entwickelte sich zum Mittelpunkt einer transnationalen Juristen‑Gemeinschaft. International bestens vernetzte Anwälte entwickelten sich hier zu Spezialisten in deutsch‑französischen und anderen transnationalen Streitfällen. Gemeinsam mit Mitgliedern der Gemischten Schiedsgerichte und der Internationalen Handelskammer versuchten sie sogar, das System dieser Gerichte zu reformieren und dauerhaft zu etablieren. Die Motivationen, Argumente und Aktionen all dieser Akteure zu erforschen, würde sicherlich einen Beitrag zur Entwicklung der Sozio‑Rechtsgeschichte leisten.

4. Die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte und die Neuordnung der Besitzverhältnisse in Mittel‑ und Südosteuropa

Sitzung des Deutsch‑Polnischen Gemischten Schiedsgerichts im Pariser Hôtel de Matignon im Februar 1925. Im Hintergrund v. l. n. r.: Alfred Lenhard, Franz Scholz, Robert Guex, Jan Namitkiewicz, Tadeusz Sobolewski. Im Vordergrund die beiden Sekretäre, deren Identität nicht genauer bestimmt werden konnte [20]

Anders als die westlichen Alliierten genossen Polen und die Mitglieder der „Kleinen Entente“ vor den mit ihnen eingerichteten Gemischten Schiedsgerichten keine weitgehende Immunität gegenüber Klagen von Angehörigen ehemaliger Mittelmächte. Ganz im Gegenteil: die Pariser Friedensverträge sahen sogar ausdrücklich deren Entschädigung für etwaige Eigentumsliquidationen vor, was die Neuordnung der Besitzverhältnisse in diesen, teils gerade unabhängig gewordenen, Staaten zu behindern drohte. Besonders die Streitfälle zwischen deutschen Klägern und der Polnischen Republik sowie der rumänisch‑ungarische Optantenstreit sorgten hierbei für internationale Schlagzeilen. Hier wäre es interessant, den Einfluss dieser Prozeduren auf das Souveränitätsverständnis der beteiligten Staaten sowie die Mobilisierung der beteiligten Akteure, sowohl in der Region als auch in Westeuropa, zu untersuchen.

5. Die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte jenseits von Europa

Dieser Themenkomplex entspringt der Erkenntnis, dass die Gemischten Schiedsgerichte trotz ihres Ursprungs in den Pariser Friedensverträgen nicht als ein rein europäisches Phänomen verstanden werden dürfen, sondern in dreierlei Hinsicht darüber hinausgingen. Erstens fällt beim Betrachten der Liste der 39 Gemischten Schiedsgerichte[21] auf, dass nicht nur europäische, sondern auch zwei außereuropäische Alliierte an diesen Gerichten beteiligt waren, nämlich Japan und Siam. Noch harren die Archive dieser Staaten zu ihrer Beteiligung an den Gemischten Schiedsgerichten – die zumindest im Falle Japans noch immer bestehen – einer wissenschaftlichen Aufarbeitung. Diese wäre umso interessanter, als sie die Wahrnehmung der Versailler Friedensordnung und der internationalen Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit durch diese Staaten weiter beleuchten könnte. Zweitens gilt es, auf den besonderen Wert der nach dem Lausanner Friedensvertrag von 1923 mit der Türkei in Istanbul aufgestellten Gemischten Schiedsgerichte hinzuweisen: zum einen, weil sie die an ihnen beteiligten Staaten und deren Staatsangehörige gleich behandelten und damit als zukunftsfähiges Modell dargestellt werden konnten; zum anderen, weil sie trotz dieses Unterschiedes von der Türkei als eine Neuauflage der für semi‑koloniale Rechtsordnungen typischen „gemischten Gerichtshöfe“ wahrgenommen wurden und damit auch die Frage der Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten zwischen Kolonialismus und Internationalismus stellen. Drittens dürfte es insbesondere aus sozio‑rechtsgeschichtlicher Perspektive interessant sein, Fälle mit außereuropäischen Klägern (zum Beispiel alliierten Kolonialuntertanen) oder einem außereuropäischen Bezug zu analysieren.

[1] „Un grand procès international: Les déportés belges contre le Reich“, in: Le Soir,  9. Januar 1924.

[2] Karen J. Alter/Mikael Rask Madsen, The International Adjudication of Mega-Politics, Law and Contemporary Problems 84 (2021), 1.

[3] Siehe hierzu: Michel Erpelding, An Example of International Legal Mobilisation: The German–Belgian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal and the Case of the Belgian Deportees, in: Hélène Ruiz Fabri/Michel Erpelding (Hrsg.), The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, 1919–1939: An Experiment in the International Adjudication of Private Rights, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2023, 309-362.

[4] Jakob Zollmann, Mixed Arbitral Tribunals: Post-First World War Peace Treaties, in: Hélène Ruiz Fabri (Hrsg.), Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2022, § 32.

[5] Charles Carabiber, Les juridictions internationales de droit privé, Neuchâtel: La Baconnière 1947 (mit einem Vorwort von Georges Scelle).

[6] Gérard Noiriel, Le creuset français: histoire de l’immigration, XIXe-XXe siècle, Paris: Seuil 1988, 19.

[7] Email-Austausch zwischen dem Autor und der Bibliothek im Friedenspalais, August-September 2020.

[8] Siehe u. a.: Jakob Zollmann, Reparations, Claims for Damages, and the Delivery of Justice: Germany and the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals (1919-1933), in: David Deroussin (Hrsg.), La Grande Guerre et son droit, Paris: LGDJ 2018, 379-394; Jakob Zollmann, Un juge berlinois à Paris entre droit public international et arbitrage commercial. Robert Marx, les tribunaux arbitraux mixtes et la Chambre de commerce internationale, in: Philipp Müller/Hervé Joly (Hrsg.), Les espaces d’interaction des élites françaises et allemandes. 1920-1950, Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes 2021, 63-77.

[9] Marta Requejo Isidro/Burkhard Hess, International Adjudication of Private Rights: The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals in the Peace Treaties of 1919-1922, in: Michel Erpelding/Burkhard Hess/Hélène Ruiz Fabri (Hrsg.), Peace Through Law: The Versailles Peace Treaty and Dispute Settlement After World War I, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2019, 239-276.

[10] August Reinisch, The Establishment of Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, in: Société française pour le droit international (Hrsg.), Le Traité de Versailles: Regards franco-allemands en droit international à l’occasion du centenaire / The Versailles Treaty: French and German Perspectives in International Law on the Occasion of the Centenary, Paris: Pedone 2020, 267-288.

[11] Hélène Ruiz Fabri/Michel Erpelding (Hrsg.), The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, 1919–1939: An Experiment in the International Adjudication of Private Rights, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2023.

[12] Natasha Wheatley, Mandatory Interpretation: Legal Hermeneutics and the New International Order in Arab and Jewish Petitions to the League of Nations, Past and Present 227 (2015), 205-248.

[13] Jessica M. Marglin, Notes towards a socio-legal history of international law, Legal History 29 (2021), 277-278; Jessica M. Marglin, The Shamama Case: Contesting Citizenship across the Modern Mediterranean, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2022.

[14] PA AA, RZ 403 53267.

[15] Carlo Schmid, Erinnerungen, Bern: Scherz 1979, 123-128.

[16] Otto Göppert, Zur Geschichte der auf Grund des Vetrags von Versailles eingesetzten Gemischten Schiedsgerichte und Schiedsinstanzen für Neutralitätsansprüche, unveröffentlichtes Typoskript, Berlin, März 1931, 34.

[17] Eckart Henning/Marion Kazemi: Handbuch zur Institutsgeschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm- /Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 1911-2011, Teil II/1, Berlin: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 2016, 881.

[18] Jean-Paulin Niboyet, Les Tribunaux arbitraux mixtes organisés en exécution des traités de paix, Bulletin de l’Institut intermédiaire international 7 (1922), 215-241.

[19] Presseagentur Meurisse, gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France.

[20]  Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe.

[21] Appendix: Alphabetical List of the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and their Members, in: Ruiz Fabri/Michel Erpelding (Hrsg.), The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, 1919–1939: An Experiment in the International Adjudication of Private Rights, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2023, 547-581.

English

How a former international media phenomenon became one of international laws ”spaces of collective amnesia“ – and how its recent rediscovery could change our understanding of transnational mobilisation

On the morning of 7 January 1924, a photographer from the Meurisse news agency went to the Hôtel de Matignon in Paris. Not to attend an official declaration by the Prime Minister – the townhouse only became the official residence of the French head of government in 1935. Rather, the press photographer was to photograph a spectacle that was novel at the time andwhich the Brussels daily newspaper Le Soir had announced to its readers as ”un grand procès international“ – a ”great international trial“.[1]

The proceedings were to take place before the German‑Belgian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal established pursuant to the Treaty of Versailles and whose permanent members were the Geneva legal scholar Paul Moriaud, his renowned Belgian colleague Albéric Rolin, and Richard Hoene, a senior judge (”Senatspräsident“) from Germany. The plaintiffs were ten Belgians who had been deported by Germany as forced labourers during the war and were now demanding compensation from the Reich. One of the claimants, 38‑year‑old Jules Loriaux, who was still scarred by his imprisonment, had travelled to Paris. He and his fellow deportees were represented by the 33‑year‑old Brussels lawyer Jacques Pirenne and his mentor, the former Belgian Foreign Minister Paul Hymans. For its part, the German  Reich not only had recourse to its state representative, Senatspräsident Alfred Lenhard, but, as usual in particularly important cases, also to a lawyer – in this case Max Illch from Berlin, who would later be driven into exile by Nazi racial policy and whose accent-free French earned him some recognition from the press.

The Belgian deportees’ case was what Karen J. Alter and Mikael Rask Madsen today refer to as ”the international adjudication of mega-politics”.[2] If Germany had lost this case at the time, it would have faced tens of thousands of such lawsuits and claims for compensation adding up to around five million francs, i.e. ten times the sum it had already agreed to pay to Belgium for its civilian war victims.[3]

The German‑Belgian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal was just one of seventeen Mixed Arbitral Tribunals (MATs) that were housed in the Hôtel de Matignon. They were an altogether new kind of international court. With the exception of the short-lived and little-used Central American Court of Justice, which dealt with just ten cases between 1907 and 1918, they were the first actually functioning international tribunals before which individuals could sue a foreign – and sometimes even their own – state. In contrast to their Central American predecessor, the MATs were a mass phenomenon: all in all, there were 39 of them, which would deal with roughly between 90,000 and 100,000 cases – some of them even after the outbreak of war in 1939. The (Kaiser Wilhelm) Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (1924), just as the one for Comparative and International Private Law (1926), owed at least part of its existence and continued state support to this mass of often highly sensitive disputes, particularly for Germany.[4] In view of these facts, it seems all the more surprising that the MATs disappeared almost completely from the collective memory of international law scholars in the second half of the 20th century.

The reasons for this are likely manifold. The discredit to which the international structures of the Paris peace order, which had been declared a failure, had fallen, was probably one of them, as was the bad aftertaste that the MATs in particular had left behind not only among the former Central Powers, some of whom had been discriminated against before them, but also among various Allies – particularly in Central and South-Eastern Europe. The desire to place the European reconstruction and unification process after the Second World War under the sign of a new beginning and to focus on international reconciliation would also hardly have been served by lengthy references to the rather mixed record of the MATs. Moreover, historians are likely to have been deterred not only by the sheer volume but also by the technical complexity of the (then) still abundant archive material.

The fact is that after a veritable flood of publications in the interwar period almost nothing was published on this topic between 1947[5] and the late 2010s. In this regard, their fate contrasts with that of the Mixed Commissions created during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, with which the MATs have often been compared. Whereas the Mixed Commissions have always enjoyed great popularity, especially among supporters of international investment arbitration, the MATs turned into an example of what the French socio-historian Gérard Noiriel described as a ”non-lieu de mémoire”,[6] a ”space of collective amnesia” – in this case, of the international legal community. Just how real this loss of memory was, becomes clear when one considers that the archives of the Paris and several other MATs, consisting of 40 large boxes and weighing several tonnes, which had survived the Second World War almost intact, were discarded by the Peace Palace Library sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.[7]

Even if large parts of the legacy of the MATs are thus probably lost forever, there is at least renewed interest today in an in‑depth reappraisal of these institutions. Jakob Zollmann’s research has been particularly ground‑breaking in this regard.[8] In addition, several publications on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Paris Treaties, notably those by Marta Requejo Isidro and Burkhard Hess[9] as well as August Reinisch,[10] have at least to some extent allowed the MATs to make their way back into the consciousness of the international law mainstream. Further strengthening and expanding this trend was also the aim of the anthology that I edited together with Hélène Ruiz Fabri in April 2023 and which is the first book on this topic since 1947.[11]

The approaches already represented in this publication can certainly be expanded on. Five general themes seem particularly promising to me in this respect – partly because they can also offer a broad field of activity for newer methodological orientations, especially in the area of socio‑legal history. Here I am thinking in particular of the work published by Natasha Wheatley[12] and Jessica Marglin[13] on the mobilisation of international law and international institutions by both elites and grassroots movements. But more classical legal‑historical and biographical approaches, drawing on archival material, would also be possible here.

1. The Significance of the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals for the German Foreign Office and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute

Distinct from the German Foreign Office’s Legal Department: Letterhead of Otto Göppert’s ”Commissariat“, also known as the ”Department of Arbitral Tribunals“ (1931) [14]

This general theme is, of course, of particular relevance for the history of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Comparative Public Law and International Law, which owes its existence in large part to the need of the Weimar Republic for adequate representation before the MATs, both in terms of personnel and arguments. Some KWI members even participated directly. KWI Director Viktor Bruns, for example, was an arbitrator on the German‑Polish and German‑Czechoslovakian Mixed Arbitral Tribunals from 1927 to 1931. Around the same time, his colleague Erich Kaufmann was a German state agent before the German‑Polish Arbitral Tribunal, among others. Both professors were assisted by Carlo Schmid , who was a research fellow at the KWI from 1927 to 1929.[15] The result of this advisory activity was in part contradictory. As Jakob Zollmann has already pointed out, although the KWI’s publications and expert opinions contributed significantly to improving the quality of the arguments on international law put forward by German state representatives, they also reinforced the understanding of the Versailles peace order within Germany as a fundamentally unjust ”dictate”. In order to shed more light on this dynamic, it would certainly also be appropriate to undertake a study of the ”Commissariat for the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and the State Agencies” (”Kommissariat für die Gemischten Schiedsgerichtshöfe und die Staatsvertretungen“), which was created within the Foreign Office in 1923, headed by Dr Otto Göppert, and at times employed over 300 staff members, including over 70 lawyers.[16] Researching the work of this commissariat and its staff in more detail should not only be interesting for understanding German diplomacy in international law in the interwar period, but also allow for continuities and discontinuities with the post-war period to be identified, particularly with regard to the European unification process.

2. The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and Private International Law

Ernst Rabel (1874–1955) did not only hold the position of Director of the KWI for Comparative and International Private Law between 1926 and 1936, but also sat on the German‑Italian Arbitral Tribunal based in Rome between 1921 and 1930.[17]

As the jurisdiction of the MATs also extended to questions of private international law, some contemporary jurists, such as Jean‑Paulin Niboyet, hoped that the case law they developed would lead to a harmonisation of the rules applicable in the various European states.[18] Although this idea was not to be realised, the discussions at the time could still be of interest to today’s specialists in private international law. Furthermore, the KWI for Foreign and International Private Law was also founded in 1926 with a view to the legal issues arising before the MATs and with Ernst Rabel – similar to his international law counterpart, with Viktor Bruns – had a director who sat as a MAT member. Research into this co‑operation should certainly provide further interesting insights into the relationship between jurisprudence and politics in interwar Germany.

3. The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and the Emergence of a Transnational Legal Public Sphere

An international media event: Plaintiffs and public at the inaugural hearing of the deportees’ case in Paris on 7 January 1924. In the foreground: lawyers Jacques Pirenne (left) and Paul Hymans (right). In the background: main plaintiff Jules Loriaux (2nd from the right, with cane)[19]

Given the number of cases heard before them and the sometimes considerable financial and political consequences associated with them, the MATs created a new transnational field of activity that was recognised by both members of the legal profession and parts of civil society. Since the hearings before the MATs were public and were also commented on by the press and even attracted onlookers, one can certainly speak of a transnational legal public sphere. This factor made it possible, among other things, for rather unprivileged actors, such as war victims, to use the MATs to assert their interests against former enemy states – or even against their own state – or at least to raise them. Some of these proceedings, such as the deportees’ case before the German‑Belgian MAT mentioned above, also received transnational media coverage.

However, the MATs also offered new opportunities to parts of the elite. Paris in particular developed into the centre of a transnational legal community. Lawyers with excellent international networks developed into specialists in Franco German and other transnational disputes. Together with members of the MATs and the International Chamber of Commerce, they even attempted to reform the system of these courts and establish it on a permanent basis. Researching the motivations, arguments and actions of all these actors would certainly contribute to the development of socio‑legal history.

4. The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and the Reorganisation of Property Relations in Central and Southeastern Europe

Session of the German–Polish Mixed Arbitral Tribunal at the Hôtel de Matignon in Paris in February 1925. In the background, from left to right: Alfred Lenhard, Franz Scholz, Robert Guex, Jan Namitkiewicz, Tadeusz Sobolewski. In the foreground are the Tribunal’s two secretaries, whose precise identity could not be determined.[20]

Unlike the Western Allies, Poland and the members of the ”Little Entente” did not enjoy extensive immunity from lawsuits brought by members of the former Central Powers before the MATs established with them. On the contrary: the Paris Peace Treaties even expressly provided for their compensation for any liquidation of property, which threatened to hinder the reorganisation of property relations in these states, some of which had just become independent. The disputes between German claimants and the Polish Republic as well as the Romanian‑Hungarian optant dispute in particular made international headlines. It would be interesting to examine the influence of these proceedings on the understanding of sovereignty of the states involved and the mobilisation of the actors involved, both in the region and in Western Europe.

5. The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals Beyond Europe

This general theme  arises from the realisation that, despite their origins in the Paris Peace Treaties,  MATs should not be understood as a purely European phenomenon. They went beyond Europe in three respects. Firstly, when looking at the list of the 39 MATs,[21] it is striking that not only European but also two non‑European allies were involved in these tribunals, namely Japan and Siam. The archives of these states on their participation in the MATs – which have been preserved, at least in the case of Japan – are still awaiting academic analysis. This would be all the more interesting as it could shed further light on the perception of the Versailles peace order and international arbitration by these states. Secondly, the special value of the MATs established in Istanbul after the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923 with Turkey should be emphasised for two reasons. On the one hand, because they treated the participating states and their nationals equally and could thus be presented as a credible model for future courts. On the other hand, despite this difference, they were perceived by Turkey as a new edition of the ”mixed courts” typical of (semi-)colonial legal systems and thus also raise the question of continuities and discontinuities between colonialism and internationalism. Thirdly, it should be particularly interesting from a socio‑legal‑historical perspective to analyse cases with non‑European plaintiffs (e.g.allied colonial subjects) or concerning events or subject‑matters situated outside Europe.

Translation from the German original: Sarah Gebel

[1] Un grand procès international: Les déportés belges contre le Reich, in: Le Soir, 9 January 1924.

[2] Karen J. Alter/Mikael Rask Madsen, The International Adjudication of Mega-Politics, Law and Contemporary Problems 84 (2021), 1.

[3] See, on this subject: Michel Erpelding, An Example of International Legal Mobilisation: The German–Belgian Mixed Arbitral Tribunal and the Case of the Belgian Deportees, in: Hélène Ruiz Fabri/Michel Erpelding (eds.), The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, 1919–1939: An Experiment in the International Adjudication of Private Rights, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2023, 309-362.

[4]Jakob Zollmann, Mixed Arbitral Tribunals: Post-First World War Peace Treaties, in: Hélène Ruiz Fabri (ed.), Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2022, para 32.

[5] Charles Carabiber, Les juridictions internationales de droit privé, Neuchâtel: La Baconnière 1947 (with a preface by Georges Scelle).

[6]Gérard Noiriel, Le creuset français: histoire de l’immigration, XIXe-XXe siècle, Paris: Seuil 1988, 19.

[7] Email exchange between the author and the Peace Palace Library, August–September 2020.

[8] See notably: Jakob Zollmann, Reparations, Claims for Damages, and the Delivery of Justice: Germany and the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals (1919-1933), in: David Deroussin (ed.), La Grande Guerre et son droit, Paris: LGDJ 2018, 379-394; Jakob Zollmann, Un juge berlinois à Paris entre droit public international et arbitrage commercial. Robert Marx, les tribunaux arbitraux mixtes et la Chambre de commerce internationale, in: Philipp Müller/Hervé Joly (eds.), Les espaces d’interaction des élites françaises et allemandes. 1920-1950, Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes 2021, 63-77.

[9] Marta Requejo Isidro/Burkhard Hess, International Adjudication of Private Rights: The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals in the Peace Treaties of 1919-1922, in: Michel Erpelding/Burkhard Hess/Hélène Ruiz Fabri (eds.), Peace Through Law: The Versailles Peace Treaty and Dispute Settlement After World War I, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2019, 239-276.

[10] August Reinisch, The Establishment of Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, in: Société française pour le droit international (ed.), Le Traité de Versailles: Regards franco-allemands en droit international à l’occasion du centenaire / The Versailles Treaty: French and German Perspectives in International Law on the Occasion of the Centenary, Paris: Pedone 2020, 267-288.

[11] Hélène Ruiz Fabri/Michel Erpelding (eds.), The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, 1919–1939: An Experiment in the International Adjudication of Private Rights, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2023.

[12] Natasha Wheatley, Mandatory Interpretation: Legal Hermeneutics and the New International Order in Arab and Jewish Petitions to the League of Nations, Past and Present 227 (2015), 205-248.

[13] Jessica M. Marglin, Notes towards a socio-legal history of international law, Legal History 29 (2021), 277-278; Jessica M. Marglin, The Shamama Case: Contesting Citizenship across the Modern Mediterranean, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2022.

[14] PA AA, RZ 403 53267.

[15] Carlo Schmid, Erinnerungen, Bern: Scherz 1979, 123-128.

[16] Otto Göppert, Zur Geschichte der auf Grund des Vetrags von Versailles eingesetzten Gemischten Schiedsgerichte und Schiedsinstanzen für Neutralitätsansprüche, unpublished typoskript, Berlin, March 1931, 34.

[17] Eckart Henning/Marion Kazemi: Handbuch zur Institutsgeschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm- /Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 1911-2011, vol. II/1, Berlin: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 2016, 881.

[18] Jean-Paulin Niboyet, Les Tribunaux arbitraux mixtes organisés en exécution des traités de paix, Bulletin de l’Institut intermédiaire international 7 (1922), 215-241.

[19] Meurisse news agency, gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France.

[20] Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe.

[21] Appendix: Alphabetical List of the Mixed Arbitral Tribunals and their Members, in: Ruiz Fabri/Michel Erpelding (eds.), The Mixed Arbitral Tribunals, 1919–1939: An Experiment in the International Adjudication of Private Rights, Baden-Baden: Nomos 2023, 547-581.

What Narratives Do

 

‘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

Narratives play a crucial role when it comes to who, how, and what is remembered from the history of international law. Why? What is the role? And what are the narratives? To begin with, Narratives can be understood as a discursive form in which meaning emerges and is stabilized at different levels of ordering.

For example, we tend to live our lives in light of a conception of where we are from and what kind of person we want to be, and that conception arises in large parts from the stories we tell about ourselves, to ourselves, and to others. At this first level of ordering, narratives play an important role in conferring and stabilizing meaning with regard to who we are and who we want to be as individuals.

Narratives do the same for any collective, i.e. for any social group. Just consider the well-studied roles that narratives have played in the formation of nations, and of national identities. There would be no ‘imagined communities’ of nationals without narratives, and without the stories that members of communities tell about themselves.

Moving closer to the field of international law, any community of scholars maintains narratives about their community, what is important to them, and what it is they are doing: as such, narratives interact with disciplinary identities.

More specifically then, narratives are crucial with regard to who, how, and what is remembered from international law. This is what I will continue to focus on and unpack: the role of narratives in international law in the dynamics of remembering and in the construction of memory.

Who remembers?

But before I do just that: next to individuals and social groups, one could also consider narratives to work on a still higher level of ordering, at the level of humanity. Whether to think of narratives of humanity is desirable – or even possible – remains a hotly disputed question.

In the very first pages of the Journal of the History of International Law (founded in The Hague, then moved to Heidelberg) Philipp Allott argued in 1999 that this is the way to go: ‘History is public memory’, he wrote, and the task before us, as he saw it, is to help construct the history of international law as the history not of any social group, but of humanity as such, as an expression of the ‘memory of the human species itself, a species memory’.

The opening editorial of that same issue, written by the Journal’s founding editor, Ronald St. John Macdonald, suggested, however, a different route: Macdonald urged awareness of the ‘plurality of human civilizations and cultures’, hoping that the new Journal ‘will intensify the study of various pasts [note the plural] of international law’. (Also see Karen Knop’s superb treatment of Macdonald’s historiographical method)

What is being negotiated in this first issue is the very desirability and even possibility of a collective memory which is that of humanity as such. It is a crucial question that is glossed over in the title of the roundtable at the inaugural workshop of the MPIL100 project, of which the present intervention formed part: ‘‘Actors, archives, canonization. Who, how, and what is remembered from 100 years of international law?’’ The title implements a passive voice to avoid any question-begging ‘we’—who does the remembering?

Dipesh Chakrabarty recently revived the debate that also percolated the first issue of the Journal on the History of International Law. Contra the stance taken by Allot, Chakrabarty disputes that humanity as a social (rather than biological) unit could be the carrier of any history. Like Macdonald, he opts for plurality as the starting point and then demands a related sensitivity for the power-ridden distribution of whose memory matters or is side-lined, and what those memories cast aside or, rather, revere.

Sometimes the obvious may bear repeating: who, what, and how the past is being remembered depends on who does the remembering.

Who is Remembered? Narratives and Canon-Making

But, of course, not everybody’s memory of the past is equally influential for the field. I therefore approach the question of who, what, and how the past is being remembered in interaction with questions about the construction of canons, with a focus on the role that narratives play here. How do narratives contribute to the emergence of canons, and how do canons, in turn, sustain certain narratives?

Here I draw on a wonderful symposium on canon-making that Paolo Amorosa and Claire Vergerio recently convened in the Leiden Journal of International Law. Canons, they start off, are important anchors of disciplinary identity. They enable conversations within and across disciplines and facilitate scholars’ self-identification.

Canons are contested, and they change. I was told that the portrait of the Max Planck Institute’s first director in Heidelberg, Carl Bilfinger, is taken down every so often in the Institute’s meeting room to then reappear in an equally clandestine fashion. Bilfinger was notably a resolved national socialist. Soon after the war, he resigned from his directorship of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institute, which he had led since 1943.

Photo of the MPIL’s Directors’ Gallery in room 014. The picture was taken on 1.6.2023, when the Institute’s summer party was held. On the left, it shows the portrait of the Institute’s founding director Victor Bruns. The portrait of his successor Carl Bilfinger was taken down by unknown persons. (Photo Philipp Glahé)

Bilfinger may not be a canonical figure in international law, but whoever makes him temporarily disappear seems to contest that this former director of the Max Planck Institute today enjoys the pride of place in the meeting room.

Paolo Amorosa has himself shown how James Brown Scott, writing in the 20th century, put 16th century Francisco de Vitoria on a pedestal as the founding father of international law. Amorosa further studied what enabled this positioning of Vitoria, what role narratives have played in that regard, and what the focus on Vitoria has then meant for the legal field, namely a marked commitment to human rights and to a universalist conception of international law.

By drawing attention to contingencies in the history of an author’s reception, Amorosa and Vergerio in their LJIL symposium, highlight questions of who is included and excluded in canon-making, and they reflect on shifting concerns and power relations over time. In short, dynamics of reception matter much more than the outstanding quality or characteristics of any author.

The point with regard to either canons or narratives is not that they are historical constructs. They are. What else would they be? But rather, the point is: first, how have they come about and, second, what are they doing in any moving present.

Those two points are linked. I have myself been concerned with questions of how to convey historical contingencies, and how to convey a sense for the possibility of alternative paths. We know ex post that some things happened and others did not. However, an outcome that was possible does not become necessary only because it happened. Neither does it become impossible only because it did not happen. How to convey this? There is always an underlying reason: a reason why Carl Bilfinger did become a director, and why Carlo Schmid did not. But Schmid could have. To convey this sense of contingency, developments have to be embedded in thick descriptions that ground claims to possibility between, and distinguish them from, unconstrained speculation. For that, the work with historical resources—archives and oral histories—remains key. This takes me to the role that narratives play in how history is being remembered in international law.

Remembering How? Narratives and Archives

It remains the case that many historical accounts in international legal scholarship continue to rehash other secondary literature and repeat received narratives without much further ado. I am referring to monographs about this or that question, this or that doctrine, whose second chapter is often a historical one, summarizing the developments that were bound to lead to the present. They turn to history not—as many historians would do—as a realm of possibility, but as a prequel to the present. Those chapters are often tied up with a sort of rationalizing analysis that speaks about legal history as a kind of unfolding of timeless ideas. Received narratives partake in this practice, arise from it, and, in turn, stabilize it.

Let me offer a quick example from my own work, recently published in the Institute’s Zeitschrift für öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (ZaöRV). Secondary literature repeats in a self-referential fashion that the first bilateral investment treaty (BIT) was concluded between Germany and Pakistan in 1959, and that the regime has since then developed with the intention to facilitate the economic development of the host state. When I stumbled on those claims once again, I started to look for an account of what led to this first BIT, and I did not find any. My archival research then showed, among other interesting things, that the reasons why Germany concluded this first BIT and then others, were due to concerns about Germany’s imbalance of trade and payments. The development of the host countries was not a consideration for the BIT practice at all.

Archival resources are, sure enough, open to interpretation and subject to appropriation in different, competing narratives. But they can and do also nicely irritate narratives, such as those underlying the investment regime. This brings me to my last and final point:

What Narratives Do

Who and what is being remembered, I have already submitted, is also an expression of the interests and sensibilities of whoever does the remembering or, put differently: archives do not themselves reveal historical truths, but are subject to interpretation and woven into narratives. And yet, some interpretations and narratives do certainly fare better amidst archival sources when compared to others. A lot of work remains for critically testing the narratives that “we” continue to tell.

But narratives can be engaged differently as well, not by questioning narratives with regard to their historical accuracy, but rather with a view to what it is that those narratives have been doing over time. This is the kind of genealogical inquiry in which Friedrich Nietzsche was invested: the point of his Genealogy of Morality was not that people have been wrong about why and how their morality has emerged. Rather, Nietzsche wanted to show and critique what those mistaken beliefs and their related narratives have been doing. In Amia Srinivasan’s take on Nietzsche’s genealogy:

“The crucial question for such critical genealogists is not ‘are our representations true’, but ‘what do our representations do?’ What practices and forms of life do they help sustain, what sort of person do they help construct, and whose power do they help entrench?”

It seems clear to me that many of the narratives—about investment law, but also about many other fields of international law—are narratives that legitimize international law as such. They also sustain exaggerated believes in international law’s problem-solving capacity. However, it is not just international law that those narratives support; they empower anyone who can pursue their interests legally, who has the possibility to kill legally, to outcompete legally, or to pollute legally.

Being a Trespasser

Disciplinary Entanglements, Collective Reflections

One of the major developments of public law scholarship in the last half century has been the enlargement of the study of public law, from studying the law to studying also the various approaches to the law and their changes over time.

This is a process of self-consciousness comparable to the revolution produced by the publication, in the second half of the Sixteenth century, of the “Essais” by Michel de Montaigne, because now lawyers study not only law, but also legal scholarship (that is how lawyers study law). This development has introduced a new canon in the legal culture.

For this reason, a collective reflection on the history of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law is particularly important and useful, if we succeed in situating this reflection in the larger  framework of the history of legal thought in the area of public law.

Disciplinary entanglements among public international law, European public law, and comparative public law (but also between public law and private law) progress in time as the product of a double development, one at the level of the legal change, the other in the scholarly dimension. The first is the erosion of state power, the second the crisis of the positivistic approach to science and to legal scholarship. Both phenomena have prompted a set of transformative developments in the field of public law.

Five new Developments

A first development is the blurring of the frontiers between the national dimension of the law and the foreign and supranational dimension. As in the XVI and XVII centuries national European courts, the “lex alius loci” (the law of another country) becomes relevant[1].

Article 6(3) TEU provides that: “[f]undamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union’s law.”[2] A similar clause is found in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Article 340. The reference to the legal orders of the Member States of the European Union as sources of Union law is reiterated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, albeit with different wording (first “principles” and later “traditions”: Article 41(3) and Article 52(4)).

These provisions introduce an entirely new manner of lawmaking. The first is that the higher law is made up of the lower law, through a process of absorption. Therefore, in the area of fundamental rights, the “general principles” of European law are the result of a complex “two-way” process, because they first proceed from the bottom up, and then from the top down. The higher law can derive from lower law; the “general principles” do not drop down from the top. This process launches a “dialogue” between the two levels of government, and is proof of their reciprocal openness. “The inclusion of Member States’ law in the concept of European law” produces a “European conglomerate of legal norms of different legal orders”[3].

The second peculiarity is that this vertical two-way procedure also requires a horizontal, comparative process, because the commonalities must be discovered through a comparison of traditions. Comparison becomes a part of the norm-setting procedure. However, at the same time, this use of comparison has an impact on the identity of this branch of legal scholarship, which thus becomes an instrument to develop concepts and institutions that transcend individual national legal orders. Comparative law replaces legal comparison and to some extent can be considered as binding law[4].

A second development is the blurring of the borders between public and private law. To overcome the different national approaches to the public/private law divide, European law has introduced the notion of “body governed by public law” “established for the specific purpose of meeting needs in the general interest, not having any industrial or commercial character”[5]. This new notion crosses the public/private  law divide, is based on substantial and not formal elements, goes beyond the national dividing lines of private and public law.

A third development is the rediscovery of the role of legal scholarship as a major element of the legal order: culture and epistemic communities become a part of the study of law as they have an impact on the legal order through system building and interpretation. Therefore, it is vital to study the historical developments of legal scholarship as a part of the legal systems at the national and at the supranational level, taking into account the divergent legal approaches and crossing borders between States, disciplines and the public and private divide.

A fourth development is the overcoming of the traditional border between the legal space and the non legal (political, social) dimension. Thanks to this development, it becomes possible to study and understand the reciprocal influences of scientific management and Taylorism, on  one side, and the regulation of administrative procedure by judges and legislators, on another side. This convergence of learning overcomes fragmentation of science and encourages integration of points of view and cultures that were separated: the life of law is not only norms and judgments, not only legal orders and systems, not only legal concepts, but also history, culture, “mentalité”, and our task is to reassemble what has been divided in the last two centuries.

A fifth development is the recognition that foreign, transnational, supranational, and global law are not only an object of scientific analysis by national scholars belonging to a different legal system, but also “goods” or “merchandises” imported from the outside into a different legal order, that have effect due to their normative or quasi–normative role both in the original system and in the importing country. This is because legal systems are open or porous (treaties and agreements abolish barriers to money transfers and to trade; and money and trade are instrumental to the transplant of legal institutions); there are some characteristics, institutions, procedures, rules, practices, common to more than one national legal system; legislators get “inspiration” from comparison, and, therefore, they have to adjust national legal systems to the prevailing institutions in the most developed nations; national courts, for their part, establish links with foreign legal orders via comparison; legal scholarship is not bound to a nationalistic approach, and comparative law experts may not only study, but also suggest or advise, on the basis of comparison; comparison is not a pure intellectual effort to know each other; it assumes a practical function; as a consequence, legal scholarship can proceed from legal comparison (“Rechtsvergleichung”) to true comparative law; comparative lawyers establish a transnational legal discourse and act as “merchants of law”; finally, comparison becomes a “source of law”, with donor countries and receptor countries (that in some cases improve the model and become donors for other countries)[6].

Looking to the Future

Due to these developments, public law has changed and is changing. Three important aspects of this change are: the overcoming of the national limitation of law, the transdisciplinary opening of the splendid isolation of the legal method, and the modifications of the grammar of law (and its traditional conceptual grounding in Roman law).

Today’s imperative is to abandon exclusive legal nationalism. This does not mean not cultivating national law, but recognizing its necessary interdependence with other national laws, regional legal orders, and universal principles.

The second imperative is to build bridges between law, the “humanities” and the “social sciences”, because law is a social science. This does not mean to abandon the “legal method”, but to integrate it with other disciplines.

The third imperative is the construction of a more comprehensive language and grammar. The vehicular language is now English, spoken by a billion and a half inhabitants of the earth. The grammar is that developed by the various branches of the science of law almost everywhere in the world.

In its centennial history, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law has become an innovative and attractive forum and center of the world’s epistemic community in public law. The combination of open-mindedness, richness of seminars and discussion, efficiency, and continuity attracts the best scholars in the field, junior and senior, a combination that has produced some of the best comparative pieces in the field of public and international law.

One can only hope that the Institute will continue along its well established traditions. One can expect and hope that in the future it will also combine researches on the State with the study of non-State actors and indirect rule, and match the study of legal doctrine and theory with a problem-oriented approach, open to non-legal methodologies.

As side by side to the State-pyramid have developed the State-network, and recently the State-archipelago, while the borders between internal and external public law become blurred, and the State is flanked by non-State supranational and global actors, attention must be given also to these new bodies.

Legal institutions and processes do not live in a vacuum, their study cannot proceed without taking into account political, sociological, cultural aspects. Therefore, while being using the tools of the trade, possessing full mastery of the legal techniques, perfect command of the principles, lawyers assembling at the Institute should also strive for a more open study of law.

 My final conclusion is an invitation: cross borders, be a trespasser, go “beyond the State, beyond the West, beyond the law”[7]!

A comprehensive version of this article will be published in the Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht.


[1] Gino Gorla, I tribunali supremi degli Stati italiani, fra i secoli XVI e XIX, quali fattori di unificazione del diritto nello Stato e della sua uniformazione fra Stati, in: Bruno Paradisi (ed.), La formazione storica del diritto moderno in Europa, Firenze: Olschki 1977, 447 ff.

[2] On the origins of the general principles of EC law, see Paul Craig, UK, EU and Global Administrative Law. Challenges and Foundations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015, 323.

[3] Armin von Bogdandy, The Current Situation of European Jurisprudence in the light of Schmitt’s Homonymous Textunpublished paper, 15.

[4] I have developed these points in: Sabino Cassese, Ruling from below: common constitutional traditions and their role, N.Y.U. Environmental Law Journal 39 (2021), 591-618. On the methodologies of comparison, see Ran Hirschl, Comparative Methodologies, in: Roger Masterman/Robert Schütze (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Constitutional Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2019, 11 ff.

[5] Art. 1 directive 18 of 2004; see also CJEU, Gemeente Arnhem and Gemeente Rheden v BFI Holding BV, Judgement of 10 November 1998, case no. C-360/96, ECLI:EU:C:1998:525.

[6] I have made these points in: Sabino Cassese, Beyond Legal Comparison, in: Annuario di diritto comparato e di studi legislative, Napoli: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane 2012, 387-395.

[7] This is a synthesis made by Tommaso Amico di Meane, Sulle spalle dei giganti? La questione metodologica del diritto comparato e il suo racconto, Napoli: Editoriale scientifica 2022, 336.