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Bertrand Russell at a press conference in London in 1966 explaining the reasoning behind the Russell Tribunal. Our featured article by Zachary Manfredi reconsiders the Russell Tribunal as ritual (picture alliance / dpa / UPI)

Sharpening the Vigilance of the World: Reconsidering the Russell Tribunal as Ritual

Abstract: In the late 1960s Russell-Sartre Tribunal gathered a group of philosophers, lawyers, activists and historians to assess the culpability of the United States for war crimes committed in Vietnam. While traditionally dismissed by commentators as a “show trial,” the gathering provided inspiration for numerous twentieth and twenty-first century “peoples’ tribunals.” This article argues that both the legal and theoretical dimensions of the initial Tribunal’s work have been underappreciated. Specially, the piece builds on Talal Asad’s theory of “ritual” to show how the tribunal cultivated Read More »


Humanity Editorial Transition

The founding editorial collective of Humanity—Nehal Bhuta, Nils Gilman, Nicolas Guilhot, Samuel Moyn, Joseph Slaughter, and Miriam Ticktin—is pleased to announce that, after ten years, its members are stepping down. To take the journal into the future, a new editorial collective has formed. Our transition has already begun, and the official switchover from one collective to the other takes place in the new year. We congratulate and welcome the members of the new editorial collective, who are already open to contact and open for consultation: Read More »

Genocide Recognition without Human Rights?

Over the course of this week, the Turkish government will be called to account for some of the most heinous human rights violations ever to be witnessed. This demand for justice won’t address the state’s reported crimes against the population of Afrin in the name of national security. And it will undoubtedly entail little, if any, scrutiny regarding the country’s current repressive measures against pro-democratic constituents. Indictments will not be made in international criminal courts or special tribunals. And the victims and perpetrators will not Read More »

Letter from Lviv: On place and the history of international law

My trip to Lviv/Lwów/Lemberg did not begin smoothly. I flew overnight from New York to Frankfurt, and from there to Vienna; boarding the third and last flight from Vienna to Lviv on Thursday afternoon, the computer beeped at my boarding pass. “Australians need a visa.” “I know; we buy it at the airport.” Not at Lviv airport, it turns out. Kiev? Sure. Or Odessa – no problem. But not Lviv. The security official remained unmoved by the fact that I had to give a conference Read More »

The Shifting Meaning of War and Peace

This post is an advance version of a review essay that will appear in Humanity volume 10. It will be posted in five parts: one each day this week. This is part 5. The interwar period was a time of heightened confusion about the boundary between war and peace. The meaning of both terms became thoroughly destabilized by political events. In this context the legal effort to end war through outlawry had unexpected and counterproductive effects.[1] For by removing war from the realm of acceptable Read More »

Trade, Statehood, and Conquest

This post is an advance version of a review essay that will appear in Humanity volume 10. It will be posted in five parts: one each day this week. This is part 4. Hathaway and Shapiro claim that “the outlawry of war in 1928—and the broader legal transformation that it unleashed—made it safer to trade” (344). By introducing a safeguard against conquest, Kellogg-Briand released the energies of free trade and colonial nationalism, resulting in a globalized world economy and a quadrupling of the number of Read More »

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