Chapter

International Law and <i>raison d’état</i>: Rethinking the Prehistory of International Law

Martti Koskenniemi

in The Roman Foundations of the Law of Nations

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599875
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595813 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599875.003.0015
International Law and raison d’état: Rethinking the Prehistory of International Law

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This chapter argues that no continuous tradition of international legal thought exists from early modernity — Gentili, Vitoria, Suárez, Grotius, Pufendorf, Vattel, however one wants to date the moment of inception — to the 20th century. What we read in standard histories is a myth. Nineteenth-century international lawyers imagined a history to what they were doing because that was the habit of a historical age. What we have, instead, is a literature on the government of modern states that occasionally deals with the external aspects of that government — war, treaties, and diplomacy. But these are not understood as a legal ‘system’ somewhere outside statehood, with the point of limiting the negative effects of state policy. Instead, they are part of a functional notion of territorial rule the purpose of which varied over time from ‘conservation’ of the realm to the ‘perfection’ of its people.

Keywords: international legal thought; international law; state policy; territorial rule

Chapter.  23088 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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