How Instant and Universal International Law Is Born and How It Dies: The 1856 Declaration of Paris

Jan Martin Lemnitzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The mechanism for the creation of instant and universal international law, which we still use today, was established through an instrument that was celebrated when introduced but is now largely obscure: the 1856 Declaration of Paris. While earlier multilateral treaties had attempted to order Europe, the Declaration of Paris called upon all nations worldwide to join new rules for naval war, inviting them to do so through a simple declaration of accession. The Declaration of Paris additionally provides an opportunity to observe the lifespan and transformations of a treaty and its rules, as the Declaration succeeded in achieving universality against the determined opposition of the United States, which refused to join the treaty and fought a campaign to prevent the creation of a customary norm banning privateering. Finally, given the collapse of the neutral rights protected by the Declaration at the beginning of the First World War and the disregard for these rights under the United Nations’ framework, the Declaration of Paris also enables to study the process of how a treaty dies but (some of) its rules may survive and continue to apply.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Law and Time : Narratives and Techniques
EditorsKlara Polackova Van der Ploeg, Luca Pasquet, León Castellanos-Jankiewicz
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9783031094644, 9783031094675
ISBN (Electronic)9783031094651
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesIus Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice

Cite this