By Andreas Osiander; Abstract: The th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia in was largely ignored by the discipline of international. See: Andreas Osiander, “Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth,” International Organization 55,2 () (Gated PDF);. Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth. Type: Article; Author(s): Andreas Osiander; Date: ; Volume: 55; Issue: 2; Page start:

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I discuss how what I call the ideology of sovereignty has hampered the development of IR theory. I suggest that the historical phenomena I analyze in this article—the Thirty Years’ War and the peace treaties as well as the post— Holy Roman Empire and the European system in which it was embedded—may help us to gain a better understanding of contemporary international politics.

This new order thus only materialised after Westphalia rather than at Westphalia.

Oxford Public International Law: The non

As the modern state system was one in which, absent any supranational authority, states were left to their own devices to organise and regulate their mutual relations, horizontal agreements through treaty played a central role in the articulation of international order relqtions treaties became its primary source.

To Parry, as to many of his predecessors, was the natural point of departure for modern treaties.

interhational Search for items with the same title. But the criticism can even reach further, to the outright negation that Westphalia created anything like a new order at all.

Westphalia is indeed a myth, and one which has particularly little basis in historical reality as far as the Peace of Westphalia is concerned. Here is how to contribute. Recommend to Your Librarian.

Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth

Westphalia, together with some other events, marked the end of a period of turmoil that had started with the Reformation in the second quarter of the 16th century mgth which had destroyed the medieval order of Europe.

Much of the confusion comes from the hybrid character of the two peace instruments, which has often been overlooked or misunderstood. It is held that the treaties which put an end to the Thirty Years War — terminated the last great religious war in Europe and sounded the death knell for the universal authority of the pope and the emperor. According to those scholars, the idea of Westphalia is a case of ahistorical myth-making to provide the state system with a clear starting point Osiander ; Teschke Series data maintained by Keith Waters.


Is your work missing from RePEc? In fact, these reminiscences were nothing but the confirmation, or at best adaptation, of old pre-Westphalian rights and went a long way to sustain the medieval, feudal, hierarchical structure that was the Holy Roman Empire. Thus the princes and republics of Europe achieved their full sovereignty and sovereigbty new international political and legal order which was premised westhpalian the principles of state sovereignty and religious neutrality emerged see, e.

The clauses into which later scholars have read references to state sovereignty or religious equality all pertain to the latter dimension of the treaties and hold no reflection on the international order of Europe or the law of nations.

I contend that IR, unwittingly, in fact judges current trends against the backdrop of a past that is largely imaginary, a product of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century fixation on the concept of sovereignty. Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles. After more than a century of unrest and instability which had impeded the formation of a new consent about the international order of Europe, Westphalia helped to create the conditions of internal stability which in the following decades allowed for the articulation of a new common order of Europe.

EconPapers: Sovereignty, International Relations, and the Westphalian Myth

A number of scholars have imternational that the new order which Westphalia inaugurated had little to do with that of the sovereign state system, which only emerged in the 19th century. The th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia in was largely ignored by the discipline of international relations IRdespite the fact that it regards that event as the beginning of the international system with which it has traditionally dealt.

Benno Teschke, The Myth of It was the order of the territorial dynastic relatoins — which Bobbitt referred to as the kingly state — and the public law of Europe, which in turn was relatiojs be transformed by the French Revolution into that of the nation-state. The midth century certainly was a period of transition between political orders and Westphalia is as good an event to symbolise this as any other. This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: By this, the date ad quem, of his work was made self-explanatory.


In the Preface to volume 1 of Internaional Consolidated Treaty SeriesClive Parry explained that his collection purported to make the historical treaties antedating the League of Nations Treaty Series available to the modern reader. At the same time, they fell within the middle of a period of civil unrest and war in many European countries —which in the case of some of the major powers ended with the victory of the forces of centralisation over local and regional autonomy.

Neither will he or she find that the Westphalian Peace Treaties were universal peace treaties, to which most of the powers of Europe supposedly acceded; nor will he or she be able to pinpoint a reference to the balance of power, as so many scholars have claimed.

Modern scholars have considered the involvement of the princes and estates of the Empire in an international peace treaty and the explicit confirmation of their right to make treaties to mark the final rejection of the sovereigtny authority of the emperor and the recognition of state sovereignty. The underlying claim is that the treaties inaugurated or even created a new international order based on the sovereign state.

The non-Westphalian Peace

He or she will not find any mention of state sovereignty or religious neutrality as principles of international organisation in the texts, nor in the surrounding diplomatic documents. Over the last two decades, the communis opinio among scholars has fallen under attack.

No peace embodies this order more than the Peace Treaties of Utrecht [e. This debate necessitates, or at least implies, historical comparisons. All this does not suffice to dismiss as insignificant in the long-term history of the political and legal order of Europe.

A historical study of treaty practice should thus move beyond Westphalia and look for the origins of modern treaty-making in the Middle Ages and the 16th century Lesaffer ; Benham War, Peace, and the Course of History London: