Giovanni Mantilla

Jun 25, 2021

Lawmaking under Pressure

International Humanitarian Law and Internal Armed Conflict

Cornell University Press 2020

Giovanni Mantilla’s new book, Lawmaking under Pressure: International Humanitarian Law and Internal Armed Conflict (Cornell University Press, 2020), traces the origins and development of the international humanitarian treaty rules that now exist to regulate internal armed conflict, and explores the global politics and diplomatic dynamics that led to the creation of such laws in 1949 and in the 1970s. In this conversation with Yi Ning Chang, Giovanni reflects on history and theory in the study of international relations and international law, on the nature of norms and power in the international sphere, and on “theorizing possibility” in international politics. Lawmaking Under Pressure: International Humanitarian Law and Internal Armed Conflict can be purchased in the United States at a 30% discount from the Cornell University Press website using the code 09FLYER. Outside the US, it can be purchased at a 30% discount from Combined Academic Publishers with the discount code CS09FLYER.

Awarded the prestigious Francis Lieber Prize for outstanding book in the field of the law of armed conflict in 2021, Lawmaking under Pressure analyzes the origins and development of the international humanitarian treaty rules that now exist to regulate internal armed conflict. Until well into the twentieth century, states allowed atrocious violence as an acceptable product of internal conflict. Why have states created international laws to control internal armed conflict? Why did states compromise their national security by accepting these international humanitarian constraints? Why did they create these rules at improbable moments, as European empires cracked, freedom fighters emerged, and fears of communist rebellion spread? Mantilla explores the global politics and diplomatic dynamics that led to the creation of such laws in 1949 and in the 1970s.

By the 1949 Diplomatic Conference that revised the Geneva Conventions, most countries supported legislation committing states and rebels to humane principles of wartime behavior and to the avoidance of abhorrent atrocities, including torture and the murder of non-combatants. However, for decades, states had long refused to codify similar regulations concerning violence within their own borders. Diplomatic conferences in Geneva twice channeled humanitarian attitudes alongside Cold War and decolonization politics, even compelling reluctant European empires Britain and France to accept them. Lawmaking under Pressure documents the tense politics behind the making of humanitarian laws that have become touchstones of the contemporary international normative order.

Mantilla not only explains the pressures that resulted in constraints on national sovereignty but also uncovers the fascinating international politics of shame, status, and hypocrisy that helped to produce the humanitarian rules now governing internal conflict.

Yi Ning Chang is a PhD student in political theory at the Department of Government at Harvard University. She works on the history of contemporary political thought, postcolonial theory and race, and the global histories of anticolonialism and anti-imperialism in Southeast Asia. Yi Ning can be reached at yiningchang@g.harvard.edu.

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Yi Ning Chang

Yi Ning Chang is a PhD student in political theory at the Department of Government at Harvard University. She works on the history of contemporary political thought, postcolonial theory, and the global histories of anticolonialism and anti-imperialism in Southeast Asia. Yi Ning can be reached at yiningchang@g.harvard.edu.

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