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Creating and Recreating Iraq: Legacies of the Mandate System in Contemporary Understandings of Third World Sovereignty

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 November 2011


This article explores the League of Nations' role in state formation in Third World or peripheral states and its legacy for contemporary understandings of Third World sovereignty. It examines Iraq under British Mandate, and UN and Coalition of the Willing interventions. This research was prompted by the international-law community's outrage when the Coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003. While the invasion was seen by many as an affront to international law, there was also something faintly familiar about the Coalition's reasoning for the invasion. This feeling of déjà vu escalated once regime change was followed by lengthy nation-building. The idea of recreating Iraq was not a new one. The British were tasked with something similar under the League of Nations Mandate System. UN interventions into failed states also attempt comparable transformations. Indeed, the more one contemplates international law's interventions in Iraq, the less shocking the Coalition's invasion becomes. It starts seeming foreseeable and even inevitable.

Copyright © Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law 2011

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