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date: 07 December 2019

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

On 17 October 1724, Ahmed III, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, granted an audience to the French Ambassador Vicomte d’Andrezel whom he received in the Topkapı Palace in Constantinople. A French contemporary painter, Jean Baptiste van Mour (1671–1737), depicted the meeting in a beautifully carpeted and decorated red room, showing the sultan on his throne surrounded by a large group of officials which almost encircle the foreigners who appear rather small besides the Ottomans with their high hats. This sumptuous scene, reproduced on the jacket of the hardback edition of this Handbook, might not be visible to all readers of the book in public or university libraries. The original oil painting Réception de l’ Ambassadeur de France, le vicomte d’Andrezel, par le Sultan Ahmed III, le 17 octobre 1724, à Constantinople can be seen in the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) of Bordeaux.

We chose this picture for the jacket because it illustrates one of the objectives of this Handbook, namely to explore the history of encounters between political and economic actors rooted in different legal cultures which gave rise to the emergence of what we now call ‘international law’. Vicomte d’Andrezel was by far not the first French ambassador in Constantinople. Diplomatic relations between the Sultan and the French King had been entertained since 1536, and at the time of our scene the ‘union of the lily and the crescent’ was firmly established.1 A historian commented that such meetings between Sultans or Grand Viziers and foreign ambassadors ‘appeared to be a collision between two worlds; they wore different costumes, spoke different languages and followed different religions. In reality, through their respective interpreters they spoke a common language of power, profit and monarchy.’2 One of the central questions of this Handbook is whether they also spoke a common legal language.

Sadly, three authors are no longer with us to see their contribution in print. Peter Krüger (1935–2011) was professor of modern history at the University of Marburg. His research focused on the history of international relations, the history of ideas, and constitutional history. A leading expert in the history of the interwar period, he wrote the chapter ‘From the Paris Peace Treaties to the End of the Second World War’. Despite illness, he participated actively in our Interlaken workshop in January 2011 where first drafts of the contributions were discussed among the authors and editors.

Antonio Cassese (1937–2011) was an outstanding international lawyer who combined a career as a university professor with membership in important UN bodies and work as an international judge. From 1993 to 2000, he was the first President (1993–97) and a presiding judge (1998–2000) of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In (p. vi) 2004, he chaired the UN International Commission of Enquiry into Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Darfur. From 2009 to 2011, he was President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Notwithstanding his immense workload, he did not hesitate a minute when we asked him to write the chapter ‘States: Rise and Decline of the Primary Subjects of the International Community’ for this Handbook.

David J Bederman (1961–2011) was the K H Gyr Professor in Private International Law at Emory University, Atlanta. Prior to coming to Emory, he practised law in Washington, DC, and worked as a legal adviser at the Iran/United States Claims Tribunal at The Hague. Professor Bederman published extensively on diverse legal topics, including legal history, constitutional law, international legal theory and practice, and the law of the sea. His chapter ‘The Sea’ in this Handbook combines a number of his areas of expertise.

We mourn the passing of our friends and colleagues. We are grateful for their important contributions to this work and will remember them as superb legal scholars and wonderful human beings.

This project would have been impossible without the generous funding by several institutions: the Schweizerische Nationalfonds (Swiss National Science Foundation), the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft (Basel), the Gerda Henkel Stiftung (Düsseldorf), the Jacobs Foundation (Zurich), and the Stiftung zur Förderung der rechtlichen und wirtschaftlichen Forschung an der Universität Basel.

We could not have handled the great number of manuscripts published in the present work, could not have kept track of virtually hundreds of emails which we exchanged with our authors, and could not have organized the very fruitful Interlaken workshop without the diligent work of the assistant editors Simone Peter and Daniel Högger: Thank you very much! Simone also lent invaluable assistance to the development of the concept of the Handbook, in particular its global history approach.

It was a difficult task to make the manuscripts, and especially the footnotes, conform to the editorial rules of the publisher. This task has been skillfully accomplished by our student research assistants Lilian Buchmann and Madeleine Schreiner in Basel, and Konstantin Seliverstov in Munich. Further, our special thanks go to the senior research assistants Anja Kiessling, Carolin König und Iris Ludwig in Munich, who contributed to the editorial work and to Claudia Jeker in Basel for her unwawering support and dedication in all respects. John Louth and Merel Alstein from Oxford University Press gave advice and support to the project right from the start.

We finally most sincerely wish to thank, once more, our authors: It is a banal but nevertheless true statement that without you the present volume could not have come into existence. We are grateful for your hard work, your enthusiasm and your patience. We hope that you are satisfied with what we achieved together.

Munich and Basel, July 2012

Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters


(1) P Mansel ‘Art and Diplomacy in Ottoman Constantinople’ (1996) 46(8) History Today 43–49, at 44.

(2) Ibid at 45.