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Aux origines du droit international : la conquête de l’Amérique

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Chapter Summary

The distinction between discovery (inventio) and conquest is not purely semantic. It takes considerable effects. The first notion implies that well qualified land did not exist before they had entered the European imagination. Those who invaded the continent could treat the territories as res nullius and ignore the institutions of the conquered peoples and especially of land ownership patterns and organization of social life, popular beliefs. Such conviction adequately served the various colonial policies that continued until the mid 20th century. Both courses of Francisco de Vitoria relating to the conquest of India set out the principles which should measure the legitimacy of it. It borrows from the Roman law a principle of natural law which confers the virtue of a rule applicable to relations between people. The rule Vitoria deducted from the "natural right" and which he applied in the conquest of America is the ius communicationis.

Keywords: international law; ius communicationis; Francisco de Vitoria; conquest of America



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