a1 Department of History, Columbia University, 611 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA E-mail: email@example.com
During the First World War, civil society groups across the North Atlantic put forward an array of plans for recasting international society. The most prominent ones sought to build on the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 by developing international legal codes and, in a drastic innovation, obligating and militarily enforcing the judicial settlement of disputes. Their ideal was a world governed by law, which they opposed to politics. This idea was championed by the largest groups in the United States and France in favour of international organizations, and they had likeminded counterparts in Britain. The Anglo-American architects of the League of Nations, however, defined their vision against legalism. Their declaratory design sought to ensure that artificial machinery never stifled the growth of common consciousness. Paradoxically, the bold new experiment in international organization was forged from an anti-formalistic ethos – one that slowed the momentum of international law and portended the rise of global governance.
* I am grateful to have benefited from the comments of Martin Ceadel, Michael Clinton, Benjamin Coates, Matthew Connelly, Sandi Cooper, George Egerton, Su Lin Lewis, Lorna Lloyd, Mark Mazower, Thomas Meaney, Susan Pedersen, Noah Rosenblum, Mira Siegelberg, the anonymous reviewers of this journal, and the participants of the ‘Roots of Global Civil Society’ conference at the University of Cambridge in October 2009. Special thanks to Peter Yearwood for his detailed commentary, and to Mathilde Unger for her assistance with research.