Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener
Chapter 4: Global constitutionalism in the early modern period: the role of empires, treaties and natural law
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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