The Lore and Laws of Peace-Making in Early-Modern and 19th-Century European Peace Treaties
28 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 22, 2018
As the works of Gentili and Vattel exemplify, the writers of the law of nations of the 16th to 18th centuries largely construed the legal conception of peace on the basis of their conception of war. The nature of peace was dictated by the nature of war. In this, their theories gelled with peace treaty practice. Whereas some of the dualistic logic of the justice and legality of war transpired in the twin pair of amnesty and restitution clauses, early modern peace treaties were designed to deal with the consequences of war under the conception of legal war. They were founded on the assumption that all belligerents had a right to wage the war and equally enjoyed the protection and benefits of the laws of war. This created space to disregard claims of right and justice and negotiate a compromise without having to heed too many legal constraints with relation to pre-existing rights and claims. The triumph of legal over just war in peace treaties, albeit not in the discourse of the justification of war itself, was a logical consequence of the ascendancy of the sovereign state.
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