(image source: Brill)
The permanent neutrality imposed on Belgium by the great powers (1830-1839) seems a precursor of a system of mandatory arbitration and the outlawing of war. At least, this image transpires in the writings of Ernest Nys (1903) and Edouard Descamps (1902), prominent voices of the ‘Gentle Civilizer of Nations’. Sixty years earlier, geopolitical circumstance, state practice and classical law of nations doctrine had brought Wilhelm Arendt (1845) to a more prudent point of view. The confrontation of both strands in doctrine with Belgian policy shows a complex sui generis combination of pragmatism and genuine fear of the guarantors’ wrath.