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Justice, War and Inequality. The Unjust Aggressor and the Enemy of the Human Race in Vattel's Theory of the Law of Nations

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This article discusses the well-known verdict of Vattel's legal positivism in relation to concepts of modernity and the European State System (Schmitt, Remec) and aims at a re-interpretation of Vattel's understanding of the modern state, just war and the international order. It wants to show that even though States and individuals do not obey the same logic and reason, Vattel was neiter a Hobbesian thinker nor, as Kant claimed, a 'sorry comforter'. The main reason for this is that Vattel's doctrine of the war en forme does not imply a break with the tradition of just war. Instead, it should be read as a reformulation of the inegalitarian notion of the enemy as proposed by just war doctrines. Pointing out to the persistance of a jusnaturalistic framework, the article shows that Vattel's concept of justus hostis is built on the same conceptual framework as the concept of the enemy of the human race.


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