International Investment Law and History
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International Investment Law and History

Edited by Stephan W. Schill, Christian J. Tams and Rainer Hofmann

Historiographical approaches in international investment law scholarship are becoming ever more important. This insightful book combines perspectives from a range of expert international law scholars who explore ways in which using a broad variety of methods in historical research can lead to a better understanding of international investment law.
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Chapter 5: History and international law: Method and mechanism – empire and ‘usual’ rupture

Kate Miles


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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