Christopher Casey

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Department:
History
Term:
Fall 2012

As more people traveled and engaged in international commercial relations during the nineteenth century, the potential for global conflict increased exponentially as states began to intervene more often to protect the lives and property of their citizens abroad. This project hopes to look at how international arbitration, consulates, and foreign offices—institutions designed for handling high affairs of state—became, under the myriad pressures of the first age of globalization, tools for dealing with the everyday and individual frictions of international life and facilitated the expansion of global commerce through the elision of legal difference and the formalization of international conceptions of legal norms regarding the persons and property of expatriates, foreign investors, and sojourners. It will begin in the mid-nineteenth century as a system of international representation with the state serving as the primary legal entity was established in order to elide the legal frictions created by the increasing international interaction powered by coal and steam. It will end by exploring the gradual emergence of the individual as a subject of international law outside of his or her personal citizenship in the interwar years culminating with the establishment of the myriad international courts of human rights after the horrific events of the Second World War. In short, it will track the rise and fall of both an ad hoc international system of individual legal protection predicated upon citizenship and operated by bilateral state relationships and arbitration and its replacement by a system predicated upon absolute universality and operated by intergovernmental organizations under the international legal framework of regional multilateral fora.