The Hidden History of International Law in the Americas: Empire and Legal Networks

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Book Review

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Juan Pablo Scarfi’s The Hidden History of International Law in the Americas is part dual legal biography of James Brown Scott and Alejandro Alvarez, part institutional history of the American Institute of International Law (AIIL) – the organization they created with the financial support of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) – and part exploration of ‘American international law’, a set of ideas principally set forth by Scott and Alvarez through the AIIL. These ideas justified US imperialism and interventionism in the Americas (particularly in Cuba) as part of a larger pan-American project that spanned from the late 19th century into the 1930s, and they became operational through ‘legal and diplomatic networks of hegemonic interactions in the Americas’ that were facilitated by the AIIL (at xviii). It is to this network and particularly to the ‘unveiling’ of American international law’s underlying ‘ethnocentric, elitist, missionary, and hegemonic’ beliefs and ‘civilizing imperial aspirations’ that the title’s adjective ‘hidden’ refers (at 188).


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