Dr Rabbi Isaac Breuer, a German jurist and Jewish rabbi, represented the ultra-orthodox community in Palestine before the international committees which considered the future of the Palestine Mandate. In his work, Breuer criticised the concept of sovereignty and introduced an alternative regime for global governance of developing peoples. His unique position, as analysed in this article, can contribute to contemporary debates surrounding the role of sovereigns as trustees of humanity, sovereignty and international law and ways of promoting global peace and human welfare.
By introducing Breuer's thought, this article seeks to contribute additional sources – both Jewish and universal – to these ongoing debates. Letting these neglected voices in international legal history enrich the debate can convince us, once again, of the importance of the periphery and of peripheral voices for the development, vitality and relevance of international law.
Breuer's model replaces the notions of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘rights’ with those of internalised obligations and subservience to law and justice. Limiting any national aspirations to total sovereignty, he implored the United Nations to refrain from elevating the Jewish national home to statehood. Opposing the Zionist position, he insisted that the Mandatory power and international institutions would enable two nations to develop side by side, in what he termed ‘the state of peace’, under international trusteeship.
We carefully draw on Breuer's insights to reflect on present debates on trusteeship, sovereignty and the management of areas devastated by conflict.