Negotiating the End of Extraterritoriality (1919-1946): A Project Proposal | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


Often viewed as a 19th-century affair, extraterritorial courts continued to act as delineators of status and civilization in global diplomacy until the 1940’s. They perpetuated ‘unequal treaties’ with Asian and African states until they had met a perceived normative level of alignment with Western values. Developments such as the inclusion of many non-European states into the League of Nations in 1919 brought hope for many states subject to unequal treaties and extraterritorial courts for international reform. Many League members, particularly China, used their newfound position within international society to abolish these treaties and courts system. However, the diplomatic route proved to be unsuccessful, and the extraterritorial system not only remained entrenched but was reinforced by new hurdles. The League of Nations introduced new conceptions of ‘civilization’ and modernity, creating additional normative hurdles for non-European states to bridge. In this project, I analyse the politics behind the removal of extraterritoriality and how their demise was due to expediency rather than by the alignment of non-European states with Western law. This topic is part of an accepted future postdoctoral project that aims to examine the role of international organisations in the formation and evolution of international norms, to assess to what extent international organisations convey status and equal international personality.


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