Edited by Stephan W. Schill, Christian J. Tams and Rainer Hofmann
Chapter 5: History and international law: Method and mechanism – empire and ‘usual’ rupture
This chapter considers methodological questions on the role of historical research in international law. In particular, it examines the adoption of a historical approach as an instrument of critique so as to create new understandings of historical periods and to illuminate the condition of modern international law. This approach is applied to investment law, examining early mechanisms of international law in the protection of property. In exploring this use of mechanisms as a repeated process, the chapter examines the writings of Vitoria, Grotius, and Vattel. It argues that there is a long history of designing new mechanisms to protect foreign investment, so that each one constitutes not a major change of direction or rupture, but a 'usual' change – and that this is also the case for international investment law in the 20th and 21st centuries.
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