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Hugo Grotius and International Relations$
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Hedley Bull, Benedict Kingsbury, and Adam Roberts

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198277712

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198277717.001.0001

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Are Grotius' Ideas Obsolete in an Expanded World?

Are Grotius' Ideas Obsolete in an Expanded World?

(p.281) 11 Are Grotius' Ideas Obsolete in an Expanded World?
Hugo Grotius and International Relations

B. V. A. Röling

Oxford University Press

Many of Grotius's ideas are obsolete and even dangerous due to radical changes in the four centuries since his birth. In particular: (1) Technological change can call into question prevailing principles and rules, one case in point being the development of nuclear weapons, which has made Grotius's doctrine of just war dangerous. (2) The growth of international interdependence needs new international structures and new principles and rules of international law. (3) In the period since European decolonization, positive international law, based on conferences and treaties, and reflecting the interests of a wide range of states, has largely replaced the essentially European preoccupations and natural law thinking of Grotius’ time. Today at a ‘Grotian moment’, Grotius should be honoured not by adhering to his teaching but by recognizing his achievement in formulating a new law for a new time.

Keywords:   decolonization, Grotian moment, international interdependence, nuclear weapons, positive international law, technological change

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