International law in the history of the Faculty
If the history of the Faculty of Law begins in 1425, with that of the University of Louvain itself, the study of international law only appears later among the concerns of jurists. Roman law, ratio scripta, was the main subject of the programme at the time.
In the fifteenth century, eminent masters of the Faculty, such as Nicolas Everard (1473-1532), Pierre Peckius (1529-1569), Nicolas de Bourgoigne (1586-1649) known as Burgundus, and Pierre Stockmans (1608-1671), were involved in judicial practice and in particular in the meetings of the Great Council of Brabant, deplore the difficulties arising from multiple statuses and endeavour, as Victor Brants points out in his historical study of the Faculty, to scientifically attenuate "the disadvantages arising from the so pulverized multiplicity of customs". The works that Burgundus, a former student of the Faculty, devoted to this problem have made him one of the creators of private international law. Special mention should be made of his dissertations published in 1621 under the title "Controversiae ad consuetudines Flandriae".
Around the same time, at a time when Europe was enjoying great prosperity and the Faculty was undergoing a remarkable expansion, other law graduates from Leuven began to take an interest in the Law of Nations. Zypaeus (François Van der Zype, 1580-1650) presents the fruit of his research in a treatise on the Law of War, while another eminent master of the Faculty, Gudelinus (Pierre Gudelin, 1550-1619) publishes his De Jure Pacis. The works of Juste Lipse (1547-1606) also contain numerous analyses on these two themes. As early as 1788, a course in people's law was officially included in the Faculty's program.
During the Dutch period, from 1814 to 1830, the modern branches developed to the detriment of traditional subjects, especially Roman law. A course in international law with a focus on international relations (Diplomatica) is taught.
At the end of the 19th century, the University of Louvain was one of the first in the world to include private international law in its official programme. The addition of this new course was sanctioned shortly afterwards by a law of 1890, apparently under the influence of Professor François Laurent, who wrote as early as 1880: "Let us hasten to complete university teaching by creating, following the example of the Dutch law of 1876, new chairs, including a chair of private international law".
Since then, international law has never ceased to occupy its rightful place in the Faculty's curriculum. Through their teaching, their research and their many professional activities, several professors of international law (such as Viscount Prosper Poullet, Charles De Visscher, Paul De Visscher, François Rigaux) have vividly illustrated the scientific reputation of the Faculty.
The Charles De Visscher Centre
In 1973, one of the most eminent representatives of legal science in Leuven was to be honoured on the occasion of the Centre's tenth anniversary. Professor Charles De Visscher agreed to add to his most illustrious titles - honorary president of the Institute of International Law, former judge at the International Court of Justice, former minister, etc. - the title of Honorary President of the Centre. - that of Honorary President of the Centre for International Law which had been created in 1963 and which became the Department of International Law in 1983, then the Centre for Research in International and European Law (CeDIE) in 2009.
The successive presidents of the Centre are: