This work presents a scholarly commentary and critique of Hugo Grotius' De Jure Belli ac Pacis. It shows that, far from being a bookish theoretician indulging in the construction of an abstract system, Grotius ultimately aimed to create a practically oriented treatise focusing on "regulating and restraining war." It also re-examines the historiography of international law with its anachronistic Eurocentric bias.
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Hugo Grotius the great Dutch international lawyer and theorist, is often portrayed as a man who, in his most famous work De June Belli ac Pacis, indulged a passion for the abstract by constructing a theoretical model of international law and international society divorced from reality. In this pioneering book, the work of a team of distinguished Japanese academics, a very different interpretation is proposed and defended. Grotius had in mind not a bookish theory, but above all a practically oriented treatise which aimed at regulating and restraining war. By scrutinizing the text and its key concepts, the authors demonstrate that this was in fact the case and that Grotius was largely successful in his aims. In this powerful and illuminating set of essays the authors also take the opportunity afforded by their study of Grotius to reflect upon the Eurocentric bias of the historiography of international law, tacitly shared even by contemporary academics.About the Author:
Onuma Yasuaki is at Tokyo University.
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