Letter: James Crawford obituary

James Crawford displayed characteristic generosity when, as director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, he invited me, a non-lawyer, to become a member and pursue an interest in the political aspects of international law in the creation of the international court of justice and its predecessor, the League of Nations’ permanent court of international justice (PCIJ).

They both bore the marks of the traditional opposition of the US to joining any international organisation that denied, either explicitly or in practice, an American veto over procedure and substance. Undoubtedly James would have endorsed the aphorism of the US legal scholar Louis Henkin: “All law is political.”

It was the essence of the argument put by the German government in a PCIJ case 90 years ago: “Behind legal phrases and forms lie the active forces of national and international life.”


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