Despite the current prevalence of English as a lingua franca in international law, many international lawyers in countries such as Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, and Angola have written a number of works in Portuguese. While more than ever, scholars from Portuguese-speaking countries have contributed to international legal journals and edited volumes in English, international legal scholars still insist on writing in Portuguese for several reasons. Portugal and Brazil have a long history of engagement with international legal concepts, institutions, and rules, which also stems from their long and well-established diplomatic traditions. For centuries, Portuguese international lawyers, followed by those in Brazil, have dealt with international legal issues and reflected upon them in the Portuguese language. In addition, states where Portuguese is spoken that emerged after the decolonization movement have made the language relevant, especially in several African countries. Factors related to the editorial market are also noteworthy. Portuguese-speaking countries have populations that total nearly 300 million. A stable demand exists for works written in Portuguese: a significant number of international law textbooks are written in the language. One cannot underestimate the deliberate interest shown by some scholars in writing in Portuguese to stimulate a necessary polyphony in the international legal discipline and, in many cases, to give form to acts of resistance to what is seen as the prevalence of English in the current international law literature. International law literature written in Portuguese has shown a slight preference for specific topics, such as the law of the sea, sources, the relationship between international and domestic law, and human rights. The oceans have been economically and strategically crucial for Portugal and its former colonies for centuries. Preference given to sources is due also perhaps to the strong relevance that Romano-Germanic legal systems attach to formal legal sources. As seen in different parts of the world, the growing call for domestic actors, including courts, to interpret and apply international law helps to explain the increasing volume of work on the relationship between international and domestic law and human rights. This article has three main parts. The first part deals with Textbooks, Treatises, and Encyclopedias. The second concerns specific chapters of international law in which relevant literature written in Portuguese is identifiable. Although this article is mainly focused on books, the last section is devoted to the most pertinent international legal Journals and Blogs published in Portuguese. Most of the works are written by Brazilian scholars. However, this choice detracts in no way from the quality of scholarship in other Portuguese-speaking countries; rather, it derives from an attempt to present a wide variety of works, in different subfields of the discipline, in the Portuguese language. The higher number of books and journals published in Brazil derives from that country’s population of over 200 million and, consequently, to the presence of a large legal community there. Additionally, the existence of hundreds of law schools in that country and the fact that international law is a mandatory subject in their curricula are relevant factors.
Textbooks, Treatises, and Encyclopedias
A significant number of textbooks are available in Portuguese. They usually follow a traditional structure—found in many European textbooks—presenting the subjects and sources and treating the relationship between international and domestic law, responsibility, and peaceful settlement of disputes (Cunha 2019 and Rezek 2018). Some works, such as Mello 2004 and Amaral Júnior 2015, contain chapters on select fields, such as human rights, environmental law, and international economic law. Although some textbooks have relied strongly on international judicial cases, such as Cançado Trindade 2017 and Varella 2019, their methodology usually depends on the deductive method. Of particular interest is the innovative attempt in Gouveia 2017 to present a Portuguese-language perspective on international law and that of Lukamba 2017, which introduces an African one. It is worth mentioning the effort made in Ribeiro, et al. 2011 to produce an international law encyclopedia. Accioly 1956 is also an encyclopedic endeavor in three volumes.
Accioly, Hildebrando. Tratado de direito internacional público. 2d ed. 3 vols. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 1956.
Accioly's treatise is possibly the most comprehensive analysis of international law ever written in Portuguese. It is also translated into Spanish and French. The three volumes are full of references of historical relevance to Brazilian international legal practice. Accioly was a diplomat and legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His professional and academic contributions, mainly summarized in the treatise, significantly influenced Brazilian positions held in international fora in the 20th century.
Amaral Júnior, Alberto do. Curso de direito internacional público. 5th ed. São Paulo, Brazil: Atlas, 2015.
A well-written and didactically designed volume both for undergraduate and for graduate students, this textbook presents the basic tenets of the international legal discipline. Also, it provides in-depth analysis of some subfields (such as international human rights, environmental law, and international trade law).
Cançado Trindade, Antônio Augusto. Princípios do direito internacional contemporâneo. 2d ed. Brasília: FUNAG, 2017.
This book is an original attempt to read several international law chapters through the lenses of some of its principles as delineated in international case law. Initially published in 1980, its current relevance lies in showing that a simple rule-based reading of international law may lead international lawyers to downgrade the role of principles, and justice, in international relations.
Cunha, Paulo Ferreira. Repensar o direito internacional: Raízes e asas. Coimbra, Portugal: Almedina, 2019.
This book aims to present, mostly to undergraduate students, the central tenets of international law. Adopting a post-disciplinary perspective (that assumes the unity of knowledge) and what the author calls a “notional topic” (which presents international law through definitions, notions, and concepts), the book represents an original account of contemporary international law.
Gouveia, Jorge Bacelar. Manual de direito internacional público: Uma perspectiva de língua portuguesa. 5th ed. Coimbra, Portugal: Almedina, 2017.
Perhaps the only textbook explicitly adopting a perspective that aims to study international law as practiced in Portuguese-speaking countries. The book also presents an extensive analysis of the main tenets of international law based on a comprehensive bibliography of authors from different Portuguese-speaking countries.
Lukamba, Paulino. Direito internacional público. 4th ed. Lisbon, Portugal: Escolar Editora, 2017.
In this textbook, Lukamba presents international law considering African perspectives and, specifically, Angolan ones. Didactically introducing the main chapters of international law, the author adopts a critical perspective, contesting, for example, the remaining influence of the notion of civilization in the discipline.
Mello, Celso D. de Albuquerque. Curso de direito internacional público. 15th ed. 2 vols. Rio de Janeiro: Renovar, 2004.
Although its last edition dates from fifteen years ago, this book is still an essential resource for international law teachers and students. Mello's textbook encompasses virtually all subfields of international law in more than seventy chapters. The literary culture of the author is evident from the multiple quotations he provides in different languages. Mello shows a strong affinity for Third World readings of the international legal order of his time.
Rezek, José Francisco. Direito internacional público: Curso elementar. 17th ed. São Paulo, Brazil: Saraiva, 2018.
This well-written volume is one of the most reissued textbooks in Portuguese. Its author, a former Brazilian Supreme Court and International Court of Justice judge, is a strong supporter of international law’s voluntarist conception.
Ribeiro, Manuel de Almeida, Francisco Pereira Coutinho, and Isabel Cabrita, eds. Enciclopédia de direito internacional. Coimbra, Portugal: Almedina, 2011.
This is the first encyclopedia of international law ever written in Portuguese. It is instrumental given its multiple entries on many topics related to international law and the deliberate accessible language adopted by the different authors.
Varella, Marcelo D. Direito internacional público. 8th ed. São Paulo, Brazil: Saraiva, 2019.
In this accessible textbook, written primarily for undergraduate students, the author grounds his vision of the discipline on the process of internationalization of law. Such an approach deals with expanding international law and the growing sharing of values and perspectives among different domestic legal systems.
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