Extraterritorial Prosecution, the Late Capitulations, and the New International Lawyers
This contribution considers the international debate among legal specialists on the status of the so-called ‘capitulations’ sparked by the ‘Joris affair’. Joris’s trial and incarceration revealed the inconsistencies and ambiguities of the legal system governing the status of foreign subjects in the Ottoman domains. The influential Belgian expert on international law Albéric Rolin argued for the extradition of Joris to the Belgian judiciary based on the Belgian-Ottoman treaty of 1838. The fact that Belgium was a small and relatively ‘powerless’ nation encouraged Ottoman legal scholars to respond without risking entrapment in major political or diplomatic incidents. Rolin’s position met with serious criticism from the Ottoman Gabriel Noradounghian and others in the growing community of international lawyers. The Joris affair incited debate about the access of ‘non-Christian’ states to the civilized international community of nations. The chapter situates this episode in two broader, interlocking legal histories: that of the capitulations, which were drawing to a close at the beginning of the 20th century, and that of international law in the modern state system, which was in the midst of its precipitous ascent.