“A Lost World?” Jewish International Lawyers and New World Orders (1917–1951)

“A Lost World?” Jewish International Lawyers and New World Orders (1917–1951)

The International Law Forum of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow, Jacob Robinson Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem / Online
From - Until
24.05.2021 - 25.05.2021
Connections Redaktion, Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig

Organized by the International Law Forum of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem together with the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow and the Jacob Robinson Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the conference presentations will analyze the contribution of Jewish international lawyers to the major developments in international law in the first half of the 20th century.

“A Lost World?” Jewish International Lawyers and New World Orders (1917–1951)

The first half of the 20th century featured two dramatic attempts to construct New World Orders following the two World Wars. These attempts included the establishment of ambitious international governance frameworks in the form of the League of Nations, the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Labor Organization after the First World War and the United Nations Organization, the International Court of Justice and the Bretton Woods System after the Second World War. In parallel with these developments, landmark agreements were reached resulting in a radical transformation of the Westphalian state system, and, in particular, with regard to the relationship between states, individuals and groups. These agreements included other major instruments such as the post-World War One minority treaties, the Slavery Convention (1926), the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928), the Geneva Conventions of 1929 and 1949, the London Charter (1945), the Genocide Convention (1948), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Refugees Convention (1951). It can be argued that the norms and institutions established in this dramatic period revolutionized international law in diverse fields, ranging from international human rights law, through international criminal law and international humanitarian law, to international economic law.

Recent years have seen a sharp increase in historical research describing the unique contribution of prominent Jewish international lawyers to the development of modern international law. Among the prominent publications belonging to this genre one can mention Philippe Sands’ "East West Street", focusing on the life and work of Raphael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht (2017), Gilad Ben-Nun’s book on the Fourth Geneva Convention which highlights the contribution of Georg Cohn, Georges Cahen-Salvador and Nissim Mevorah (2020), James Leoffler and Moria Paz’s edited volume on the Law of Strangers (2019), James Loeffler’s "Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century" (2018), Nathan Kurz’s "Jewish Internationalism and Human Rights after the Holocaust" (2020) and Rotem Giladi’s publications on Israel and the Refugees and Genocide Convention (2015). A number of earlier works also touched upon multiple dimensions of the topic, including the contributions of prominent Jewish international lawyers, such as Hans Kelsen and Jacob Robinson, and on the relationship between the experience of being uprooted and interest in international law.

The conference presentation will analyze the contribution of Jewish international lawyers to the major developments in international law noted above, and address the following questions: Can one truly speak of a “Jewish school” in international law? Or can one allude to a number of “Jewish schools” speaking in different voices? Can the contributions of Jewish international lawyers be distinguished from other contemporary trends shaped by migration and/or attachment to cosmopolitan ideals? If so, what are the main contours of this Jewish school(s)? How is it related to Jewish thought and experience generally or to the collective interests of the Jewish people in the relevant period? Does anything remain of this tradition in the 21st century? Has this tradition affected the approach to international law of Israel and international Jewish institutions? To what extent does the categorization of certain authors as “Jewish” do injustice to their own self- identification as individuals or as nationals of specific countries? To what extent has the Jewish stance(s) toward international law changed since the creation of the State of Israel (and to what extent is there a Jewish-Israeli School (or schools) that are distinct from the Jewish school(s)(? In particular, how may these questions be related to what some have seen as Israel’s skeptical stance towards many of the universal or cosmopolitan values articulated in the post-World War eras. Finally, can any contemporary lessons be drawn from this phenomenon and, if so, what are they?

Understanding the historic experience represented by the contribution of Jewish international lawyers in the period in question may also help researchers better understand contemporary attitudes towards international law as well as the feasibility of changing them.


Day 1– 24 May 2021

15:00-15:45 - Opening Lecture:
Philippe Sands – The Jewish International Lawyers from
East West Street.
Chair: Yuval Shany.

16:00 - 17:15 - First Panel: Diversity of Schools?
Christoph König - FA Mann and the Well-Intentioned
Surveying of Jews.
Marta Baranowska - Szymon Rundstein on the idea of law
as the foundation of international law.
Reut Yael Paz & Max Wagner – The Straussians:
(Jewish) Conservatism or Conventionalism in
International law?
Chair: Elisabeth Gallas.

17:30 - 18:45 - Second Panel: Conflicting
Dan Diner – Abba Hillel Silver and international law (TBC).
Moria Paz - Jewish Transnationalism and International Law:
The Case of the Alliance Israélite Universelle.
Matthew Johnson - Yiddish Rights?
Chair: Yael Ronen

19:00 - 20:00 Book Panel:
Presentation: Rotem Giladi – Jews, Sovereignty, and
International Law:
Ideology and Ambivalence in Early Israeli Legal Diplomacy.
Responses: Gil Rubin, Malcolm Shaw.
Chair: Yfaat Weiss.

Day 2 – 25 May 2021

15:00 - 16:15 - Third Panel: Responses to the
Leora Bilsky - Rachel Auerbach and the Eichmann Trial: A
New Conception of
Victims’ Testimonies.
Tom Eshed - Claiming the Dead – The Debates about the
Conferring of Commemorative Citizenship upon Jewish
Holocaust victims during the 1950s.
Yehudit Dori Deston and Dan Porat - A Survivor, A
Legislator and A Jurist: Joseph Lamm’s Legal Legacy in
relation to the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law (1950).
Chair: Philipp Graf

16:30 -17:45 - Fourth Panel – Cross-Influences:
Annette Weinke - The Role of Jewish Émigré Lawyers and
their Contributions to International Humanitarian Law.
Gilad Ben-Nun - How Jewish is International Law?
Discussant: James Leoffler.
Chair: Maria Varaki.

18:00 - 19:15 - Concluding Round Table
Participants: Malcolm Shaw, Elisabeth Gallas, Guy
Harpaz, Moshe Hirsch, Yael Ronen and Dan Diner.
Chair: Tomer Broude.

Contact (announcement)

The Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
International Law Forum
Mr. Tal Mimran
Email: tal.mimran(at)mail.huji.ac.il

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