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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1758, Emer de Vattel published The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns. The work enjoyed considerable success, much to the amazement of the author himself. From the eighteenth to the beginning of the 20th century, Vattel’s authority on the subject of international law remained unrivalled. To begin with, he applied a strictly interstate perspective in which the law of nations is specifically the law governing relations between States. Vattel recognized the existence of a duality of norms governing the conduct of sovereign States: the norms imposed by natural law and those imposed by the positive law of nations. He also theorized about a law of nations that is both ‘liberal and pluralist’, and which is very much in line with the state of European society at the time of the Enlightenment.

Keywords: Law of Nations, international law, natural law, European society, sovereign States

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