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Treaties in danger? Contemporary crises of International order in Historical perspective

Great Hall, London

9 Dec
SMH large
Sir Michael Howard

17:00 - 18:00 | Tea/Coffee, Great Hall Open Space

18:00 - 19:30 | Lecture, Great Hall

The rise of political populism in Europe and the United States, together with its accompanying nationalism and isolationism, has generated widespread apprehension that instability and division at the national level are scaling up to unsettle the international realm as well. The symptoms seem to be widespread: the Trump administration's withdrawal from international agreements; Russia's invasion of Crimea; Brexit; even a failed referendum in Switzerland to prefer "Swiss law over foreign judges": all seem to indicate a crisis of the so-called "rules-based international order".

The ligaments of that order are treaties--the ties that bind international actors together in webs of trust and obligation. But where did the idea that treaties could create order come from? And what is the relation of treaties to various forms of disorder, such as empire, power politics, and the supremacy of the state over the individual and other competing actors? This lecture traces ideas of treaty-making and treaty-breaking over the centuries to place contemporary concerns in long-range historical perspective.

David Armitage, MA, PhD, LittD, CorrFRSE, FRHistS, FAHA, is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and former Chair of the Department of History at Harvard University, where he teaches intellectual history and international history. He is also an Affiliated Professor in the Harvard Department of Government, an Affiliated Faculty Member at Harvard Law School, an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, an Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney and an Honorary Professor of History at Queen's University Belfast. During the academic year 2019-20, he will also serve as the Sons of the American Revolution Visiting Professor at King's College London.


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