The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World

Photo of cover of the book titled "The Internationalists"

Oona A. Hathaway, the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, and Scott J. Shapiro, the Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and professor of philosophy

(Simon & Schuster)

In August 1928, the leaders of the world assembled in Paris to outlaw war. Within the year, the treaty they signed, known as the Peace Pact, had been ratified by nearly every state in the world. War, for the first time in history, had become illegal the world over. However,  within a decade of its signing, each state that had gathered in Paris to renounce war was at war. And in the century that followed, the Peace Pact was dismissed as an act of folly and an unmistakable failure. “The Internationalists” argues that that understanding is inaccurate, and that the Peace Pact ushered in a sustained march toward peace that lasts to this day.

The book tells the story of the Peace Pact by placing it in the long history of international law from the 17th century through the present, tracing this history through a diverse array of lawyers, politicians, and intellectuals — Hugo Grotius, Nishi Amane, Salmon Levinson, James Shotwell, Sumner Welles, Carl Schmitt, Hersch Lauterpacht, and Sayyid Qutb. It tells of a centuries-long struggle of ideas over the role of war in a just world order. It details the brutal world of conflict the Peace Pact helped extinguish, and the subsequent era where tariffs and sanctions take the place of tanks and gunships.