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What Difference Does Ius Inter Gentes Make? Changing Diplomatic Rights and Duties and the Modern European States-System

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The legal status of diplomats underwent a dramatic change between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries as a consequence of a transformed European states-system. Its transformation is linked to ius inter gentes, a 'law between nations' whose emergence not only created a Europe of sovereign states but simultaneously affected the scope, definition and justification of rights and duties held by diplomatic representatives. It is generally acknowledged that diplomacy as an institution exists by virtue of rules that are embodied in the modern system of states and defined as 'international society' or the 'society of states'. What needs to be better understood is that diplomatic rights and duties are made possible by this framework of an international society, which has discernible historical and analytical boundaries, and that the relationship between such a framework and its diplomatic institutions is not contingent but logical.


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