IN undertaking this new edition of lHonsiellr De Vattel’s treatise, it was not my the law of nature, the law of nations, and the civil law, are well known. ” The law. Cambridge Core – Political Theory – The Law of Nations – by Emmerich de Vattel / edited by Joseph Chitty. The great eighteenth-century theorist of international law Emer de Vattel (– ) was a key figure in sustaining the practical and theoretical influence of.

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This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc. Introduction, annotations, translations, bibliographies, index. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Vattel, Emer de, — War International law 3. Principles of the law of nature, applied to the conduct and affairs of nations and sovereigns, with three early essays on the origin and nature of natural law and on luxury.

It was in great measure thanks to this work that the practical and theoretical influence of natural jurisprudence was extended down through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Indeed, it was Vattel who was cited as a major source of contemporary wisdom on questions of international law in the American Revolution and even by opponents of revolution, such as Cardinal Consalvi, at the Congress of Vienna.

From to Vattel was enrolled as a student of the humanities at the University of Basel, where he seems to have attended courses on Samuel Pufendorf given by the Huguenot minister Pierre Roques. These essays, which included his Dissertation sur cette question: Nevertheless, this turned out to be the most productive period of his life.

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In he published a further collection of essays that included dialogues between Diogenes and Marcus Aurelius and between Henry IV of France and his adviser Sully. In the elector of Saxony finally yhe Vattel to Dresden, appointed him to the Privy Council, and made him chief adviser to the government of Saxony on foreign affairs.

Although a subject of the king of Prussia by birth, and a servant of the elector of Saxony by profession, Vattel was first and foremost Swiss. However, that description was more vatteel in the eighteenth century than it is today.

Emer de Vattel – Wikipedia

What foreign observers often referred to as the Swiss republic was in fact a loose federation of independent and highly diverse entities, some aristocratic, some democratic, some monarchical, all of them small, some no bigger than a wmmerich. The federation was held together by fear of foreign thd, a complex web of treaties, jointly ruled territories, and military and trade agreements to contain conflict between individual cantons.

Although Swiss thinkers frequently invoked a universal society of nations, they remained highly suspicious of projects for perpetual peace in Europe, whether a benevolent hegemony or a European federation.

Instead, they saw their best chances of survival in the more fragile order provided by a balance emmerixh power between large commercial nations constantly in need of Swiss mercenaries for their Edition: Here Vattel claimed to be following Christian Wolff who, in his Ius rmmerich methodo scientifica pertractatum, derived the duty to mutual aid from analogy between the state of nature and the realm of international relations: The primary duties of states were, first, to preserve and perfect themselves, and, se, to assist each other in fulfilling those duties each state owed to itself.

Vattel argued that states that acted upon the principles of natural law alone would ultimately come to form a universal republic: Og, prudence prevented existing states from making mutual aid the guiding principle of foreign politics. Instead, states ought to content themselves with a morally less appealing, but nevertheless workable, order based on the balance of power. Vatteel explained this acknowledgment of the realities of modern European politics on two grounds.

The first was the theoretical incoherence of previous natural law theories with regard to the duties of perfectly vattl states. The implication this had for trade was clear enough: Wolff had also rightly recognized that since the law of nations applied to all states in the same way, those states affected by trade sanctions could merely point out breaches of the necessary law of nations. Refusal to trade, however, did not provide any legal ground for the commencement of military hostilities.

The situation was different when a state was not lad incapable fo self-preservation but lacked any d to exchange for vital vattrl.

Here, the perfect right of preservation of a potential donor nation was bound to clash with the equally perfect right of preservation of a state on the brink of starvation. Given the increasingly economic dimension of European politics, there was a constant danger that peaceful trade would be teh to the logic of warfare.

Wolff hoped to derive such understanding from the image of a civitas maxima, a universal republic instituted by nature, whose civil law was the expression of the right reason of civilized nations. While civil society could be said to be natural in that it originated in Edition: In contrast to individuals, nations enjoyed greater autonomy and because of this had no pressing reason to subject themselves to a higher authority. Here he sought to explain how humans could be under an obligation to natural law even in the absence of a punitive superior.


In The Law of Nations Vattel used the same argument with regard to states. Moreover, like individuals, nations could attain national happiness only by developing more enlightened forms of self-interest, forms that took into account the well-being of other nations.

It was acquired through the positive reputation a state enjoyed among well-intentioned nations, and through the respect it nationx from those seeking to violate the laws of nations. A truly glorious nation, Vattel hoped, would set an example others would wish to emulate.

In so doing, it would gradually shift the pathological rivalry between states in the direction of a system based on virtuous competition. As a further measure for reducing the tensions between self-preservation and mutual aid, Vattel called upon European rulers and their ministers to implement a wide range of legislative reforms that would allow modern nations to break out of the vicious cycle of public borrowing and taxation and to create a healthier balance between income and expenditure yhe.

He also expressly recommended the role of learned societies for the dissemination of technological know-how bk. Praise of Britain also allowed Vattel to emphasize the greater modernity of Protestant states by contrast with the backwardness of the religious, moral, and economic practices that he associated with Catholicism. In an openly polemical fashion, Vattel often linked such backwardness with reason of state, or amoral policy, in the international Oaw Catholic writers were, however, willing to use Vattel for his broader arguments about the independence of small states.

Vattel was convinced that if Britain played a more active role in the relations between European states, French aspirations to universal monarchy would be countered. This was expected in turn fattel safeguard the sovereignty of the smaller states, and especially the Swiss republics, the legitimacy of whose existence was increasingly questioned as public credit allowed the larger monarchies to employ mercenary armies too strong for the old republics, however great their republican valor and virtue.

Vattel saw his magnum opus as a contribution to a great European debate on the science of legislation, a debate that analyzed the possibilities available to modern nations to secure liberty and cultural advancement against constant interruption by war. The importance of The Law of Nations therefore resides both in its systematic derivation of international law from natural law and in its compelling synthesis of the modern discourse of natural jurisprudence with the even newer language of political economy.

These features help to explain the continuing appeal of this text well into the nineteenth century among politicians, international lawyers, and political theorists of every complexion. The first edition of was based on the French original Droit des gens of A Dublin translation of is remarkably fluent and elegant, but it does not include the substantive notes of the original nor, more importantly, the notes added to the posthumous French edition of and intended by Vattel for a second edition he did not live to complete.

Several English editions, including the Classics of International Law edition, are similarly flawed and based on the edition of One, fromcontains a pagination error. This has been corrected in the revised version, Londonand the latter forms the basis for the present edition.

The edition has the benefit of a detailed table of contents and margin titles for subsections. There is no modern edition of The Law of Nations, but facsimiles of the popular nineteenth-century editions by the London barrister Joseph Chitty have appeared in recent times. These annotated editions first in and their reissue with further notes by Edward Ingraham first in were based on the London edition.

Vattel: The Law of Nations: Book I

Chitty helpfully identified the notes that distinguished the edition from the earlier English translation. He sought, however, to add much more to the text, as he explained in a preface written in Chancery Lane in November Many years have elapsed since the original work was published, long before the invaluable decisions of Sir William Scott, Sir C. The object of the present Editor has, therefore, been to collect and condense, in numerous notes, the modern rules and decisions, and to emmericj the positions in the text by references to other authors of eminence, and by which he hopes that this edition will be found of more practical utility, without interfering with the text, or materially increasing its size.

The present edition includes new footnotes, elucidating dates, events, works, and persons referred to by Vattel. Posthumous additions to the French edition ofwhich were then translated in the edition ofare identified as such in the new notes. For each translation, reference to the edition used can ds found in the bibliography of authors cited.

The bibliography of authors cited includes and explains the short titles employed by Vattel in his footnotes. Page breaks in the edition have been indicated in the body of the text by the use of angle brackets. The two translations, both for the first time in English, are based on the texts as appended to a nineteenth-century edition of the Le droit des gens: It is translated here in English for the first time. The text of this essay is important because it shows Vattel to have Edition: Emmeric all vatel essays the original notes have been preserved as numbered notes.


New material added by the volume editors is enclosed in double square brackets. Thanks are also due to Laura Goetz, Diana Francoeur, and the editorial team at Liberty Fund, who saw the manuscript through press with outstanding professionalism.

As is always the case, a debt of gratitude is owed to our wives and families, and also to our colleagues in intellectual history at Sussex, Fribourg, and Lausanne. Our greatest debt, however, is to Knud Haakonssen who, master editor that he is, guided us with patience and good tye through the minefield of modern editorial practice.

Nihil est enim illi principi Deo qui d hunc mundum regit, quod quidem in terris fiat, acceptius, quam concilia coetusque hominum jure sociati, quae civitates, appellantur.

Revised, corrected, and enriched with many valuable Notes never before translated into English. As I proceeded, however, my alterations became more numerous: Even if his decision should be more favourable than I have any reason to expect, I lay no claim to praise for my humble efforts, but shall esteem myself very fortunate if I escape the severity of censure for presenting the work to the public in a state still so far short of perfection.

Conscious of its defects, I declare with great sincerity—. The Law of Nations, though so noble and important a subject, has not hitherto been treated of with all the care it deserves. The greater part of mankind have therefore only a vague, a very incomplete, and often even a false notion of it.

The generality of writers, and even celebrated authors, almost exclusively confine the name of the Law of Nations to certain maxims and customs which have been adopted by different nations, and which the mutual consent of the parties has alone rendered obligatory on them.

This is confining within very narrow bounds a law so extensive in its own nature, and in which the whole human race are so intimately concerned; it is at the same time a degradation of that law, in consequence of a misconception of its real origin. There certainly exists a natural law of nations, since the obligations of the law of nature are no less binding on states, on men united in political society, than on individuals. But, to acquire an exact knowledge of that law, it is not sufficient to know what the law of nature prescribes to the individuals of the human race.

The application of a rule to various subjects can no otherwise be made than in a manner agreeable to the nature of each subject. Hence it follows that the natural law of nations is a particular science, consisting in a just and rational application of the law of nature to the affairs and conduct of nations or sovereigns.

All those treatises, therefore, in which the law of nations is blended and confounded with the ordinary law of nature, are incapable of conveying a distinct idea or a substantial knowledge of the sacred law of nations. And that law, which natural reason has established among all mankind, and which is equally observed by all people, is called the law of nations, as being a law which all nations follow.

The exigencies and necessities of mankind have induced all nations to lay down and adopt certain rules of right. For wars have arisen, and produced captivity and servitude, which are contrary to the law of nature; since, by the law of nature, all men were originally born free.

Still this is nothing more than the law of nature which is equally applicable to all mankind. The Romans, however, acknowledged a law whose obligations are reciprocally binding on nations: They had also their fecial law, which was nothing more than the law of nations in its particular relation to public treaties, and especially to war.

The feciales were the interpreters, the guardians, and, in a manner, the priests of the public faith. They differ only in the ideas they entertain of the origin whence that system arose, and of the foundations upon which it rests. The celebrated Grotius understands it to be a system established by the common consent of nations; and he thus distinguishes it from the law of nature: