LCIL Friday Lecture: 'Regular War, Humanitarianism, and the Difference Sovereignty Makes' - Prof Pablo Kalmanovitz, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, División de Estudios Internacionales, Mexico City

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The distinctive vocabulary and broad principles of the modern laws of war developed within a broader project that from early modernity spelled out the nature and powers of state sovereignty. This lecture focuses on the Enlightenment theorists of “regular war.” It shows how their project of limiting war through law was anchored in a capacious conception of sovereign power, in which reason of state appeared as a restraining force through the vehicle of the law of nations. This Enlightenment project of regular war is contrasted with late-19th century humanitarianism, which had serious misgivings about reason of state and sovereignty itself. Restraint through humanitarian action was possible only with state support, but it resulted from neutral rescue action and moral condemnation. The lecture shows how these two conflicting conceptions of restraint came together in the first codified instruments of the laws of war, and how they are still present in the law of armed conflict. It concludes by discussing some implications of this genealogical analysis for contemporary debates on the convergence of international humanitarian, human rights, and criminal law. Pablo Kalmanovitz is research professor and head of the International Studies Division at CIDE, in Mexico City, and general editor of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law. He has held permanent or visiting positions at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, the European University Institute, Yale University, McGill University, and the University of Ulster. His research focuses on historical and theoretical aspects of the international regulation of armed force, on which he has published numerous articles and book chapters. His book The Laws of War in International Thought was published by Oxford University Press in 2020.

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