New voices: peace and security norms and institutions in historical context.

Author:Cheng, Tai-Heng
Position:Proceedings of the One Hundred Second Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law: The Politics of International Law

This panel was convened at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, April 12, by its moderators, Mark Janis of the University of Connecticut School of Law and Andrea Bjorklund of the University of California, Davis, School of Law, who introduced the panelists: Tai-Heng Cheng of New York Law School; Richard Collins of the University of Sheffield; Michael Janson of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law; and Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law. *


This is an opportunity for us to welcome new scholars to the world of international law. I am so glad you are here with us this morning. My name is Mark Janis and I am moderating, along with Andrea Bjorklund who is one of the organizers of the conference. The format is defined by the time we have available: seventeen minutes for each of the speakers and then seventeen minutes for questions and comments at the very end. Andrea has kindly consented to introduce our first two speakers, Michael and Tai-Heng, and I will introduce Richard and Eugene.


It is my pleasure and privilege to be here, and I am pleased to see all of you at this fairly early hour on a Saturday morning. Our first speaker will be Michael Janson, who is a J.D./ Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He has put together a very interesting presentation based on, I believe, his dissertation. The title is A Christian Century: Liberal Protestantism, The New Deal, and The Origins of Post-War American Politics. He has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, and he has legal practice experience as well, including work with the Penn Law Unemployment Compensation Project and the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey.

Tai-Heng Cheng is at New York Law School, where he is associate professor of law. He is an expert in international law and international arbitration. In addition to being a remarkably prolific scholar, he has written one book already on state succession and commercial obligations, and he has a new book forthcoming in 2009 called The End of International Law. Let us hope that that is a provocative title, rather than a prediction that will come true. Tai attended Oxford for his first degree, and he also has an LL.M. and a J.S.D. from Yale Law School.


Another English connection is Richard Collins, who is presently a Ph.D. candidate and graduate teaching assistant in the School of Law, University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, as well as an associate lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University. Richard obtained his LL.B. degree from Sheffield Hallam University with first class honors and then an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and is presently working on his Ph.D. at Sheffield under the title Locating the International Rule of Law: Territorial Administration Projects Undertaken by The International Community. His remarks today will be on a different topic, however. Finally I present Eugene Kontorovich, who teaches at Northwestern University, and before that at George Mason. I will try to keep to seventeen minutes for everyone so that everybody has an equal chance to speak and so that we have an opportunity for questions and comments from all of you.

* The panel wishes to thank Anna Beier-Pedrazzi for aiding in the preparation of the following manuscript.

([dagger]) William F. Starr Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law.

([double dagger]) Professor of Law, University of California, Davis, School of Law.


My remarks today concern American Protestantism and the development of international law from 1908-1945. My research concerns the changing formulation of American policy with regards to international institutions within this time period, within which American policy makers moved from disfavoring strong international institutions to, by the end of World War II, believing international institutions were needed to prevent another global conflict. Typically, this story is told in secular terms, in terms of policy makers just trying to make sense of the devastation caused by the war and how to prevent it in the future.

The story that I was interested in was a different story, a story about religious institutions that got involved in the struggles about the international order. And as far as those religious institutions influenced American policy preferences, it is a story that we have not explored and something that we need to take into account if we are going to think about how American policy preferences with regard to international law change over time and how they will change in the future.

In the 21st century, American officials often portray foreign policy matters in moralistic and at times religious terms. References such as "evildoers" and the like are common. While some of these discourses are new, the use of moralistic narratives and religious ideas in American foreign policy is definitely not new. American policy makers in the 1920s discussed disarmament and arbitration in a moral language that was encouraged by the advocacy of the liberal policy in the churches. In the 1930s, these same churches renounced the war system as evil and un-Christian. During World War II, liberal churches developed indictments of the actions of the major powers in the interwar years, and strenuously advocated for the creation of a set of new international organizations.

After World War II, American policy makers encouraged institutional appropriation of religious ideas and categories in order to win the Cold War. These varied formulations suggest that Protestant political action is an important and enduring factor in American foreign policy, influencing American foreign policy preferences, with specific significance for American attitudes towards international law and the development of international institutions.

In my remarks today, I am going to discuss four phases of the Protestant advocacy during the period 1908 to 1955. First, 1908-1932 was the beginning of liberal Protestant advocacy on these issues. The Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, which was the largest confederation of Protestant churches, led what was called "The Christian Crusade for a Warless World," and it pushed policies like arms control agreements, outlawing of international war, and creation of a set of strong international organizations. The second period is from the beginning of the Roosevelt administration until the end of the 1930s. During this time, there was tension between the liberal churches and the Roosevelt administration because the administration began rearming and disagreed with liberal church policy and advocacy on numerous issues. The third phase is the development of liberal policy and advocacy following the outbreak of hostilities in Europe from the fall of 1939 until the end of World War II. John Foster Dulles, who was a very controversial figure and international lawyer with numerous connections with foreign policy establishments, became the chair of the Commission for a Just and Durable Peace, which was the commission of the Federal Council of Churches, and led liberal church policy advocacy at the time. This commission advocated for a rethinking of international sovereignty system, creation of a strong United Nations, and the amelioration of international economic inequalities. The fourth phase of advocacy followed World War II, which I will discuss very briefly. Liberal policy makers began thinking of religion as a "Cold War Weapon," and as an instrument that could be used to achieve foreign policy objectives.

The point I want to make generally, and this is the end of my introductory remarks, is that the reformulation of liberal policy advocacy towards internationalism that bordered on pacifism in the 1920s contributed to, and was coincidental to, the broad reformulation of American foreign policy following World War II. The church-centered account presented here sheds light on why and how the state shifted on foreign policy and why the Cold War became so rhetorically pitched so quickly. As continues to be true today, religious institutions are an important variable affecting the development of international law.

During the first period, from 1908-1932, churches in the United States began to take stock of the problems of the previous century, and began to develop an international advocacy. There are a few things I want to emphasize in terms of this advocacy. The first is that it drew upon what is known as the Social Gospel Movement, which was a broad set of liberal policy ideas about the way churches could reformulate society. This Movement believed churches should not just be interested in individual salvation, but also more generally in social rehabilitation. The first aspect of this advocacy that I want to emphasize is that it was not just an indictment of individual wars, but rather it was an indictment of what church advocates called the "war system." And insofar as they saw a "war system," they saw it as something that required a systematic response. It was not just that multiple wars had come because of various politicians or because of the depravity of humanity, but because there was no set of international institutions that could restrain that drive to war. Second, liberal process and advocacy during this period was not just a general indictment, but also prescribed specific steps that should be taken. In that sense, it is quite startling to look at these organizations because compared to contemporary secular organizations, the liberal churches were way out in front, in terms of thinking about what actually could be done to change the international system.

Generally the liberal churches spoke about four ideas: the development of a world court, international cooperation directed at forming effective and strong...

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