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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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Grotius, Human Rights, and Intervention

Grotius, Human Rights, and Intervention

(p.241) 8 Grotius, Human Rights, and Intervention
Hugo Grotius and International Relations

R. J. Vincent

Oxford University Press

While the expression ‘human rights’ is not associated with any publicist before the twentieth century, Grotius's concept of law begins with the individual. International society does not consist of states alone, but of a great society of humankind. However, Grotius was ambiguous on the rights of the individual as against the state, and seemed to deny individuals the right of resistance against the unjust acts of their own rulers. While he generally supported what is now called non‐interventionism in international relations, he accepted that when a tyrant practices atrocities towards his subjects, military intervention by a foreign sovereign on their behalf may be legitimate. In the twentieth century, declarations and international covenants on human rights reduce the domain defended by the principle of non‐intervention.

Keywords:   atrocities, human rights, military intervention, non‐intervention, right of resistance

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