Handbook on Global Constitutionalism
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Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener

This Handbook introduces scholars and students to the history, philosophy, and evidence of global constitutionalism. Contributors provide their insights from law, politics, international relations, philosophy, and history, drawing on diverse frameworks and empirical data sets. Across them all, however, is a recognition that the international order cannot be understood without an understanding of constitutional theory. The Handbook will define this field of inquiry for the next generation by bringing together some of the leading contemporary scholars.
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Chapter 4: Global constitutionalism in the early modern period: the role of empires, treaties and natural law

Martine Julia van Ittersum


This chapter critiques the fetishism of treaties in modern international law. It explores the relationship between European expansion overseas, treaty making and natural law in the early modern period, focusing in particular on the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (1583–1645). A steadfast supporter of the Dutch East India Company, he defended the ‘unequal treaties’ which the company concluded with Asian rulers in De Jure Belli ac Pacis/On the Law of War and Peace (1625). The history of treaty making is closely connected with that of Western imperialism and colonialism. It is no panacea for the protection of indigenous rights in the modern world.

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