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International Law and EmpireHistorical Explorations$
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Martti Koskenniemi, Walter Rech, and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022



Rethinking Grotius and the Westphalian System

(p.149) 7 Cerberus
International Law and Empire

José-Manuel Barreto

Oxford University Press

Relying on a reinterpretation of Grotius and the Peace of Westphalia, this chapter proposes that not only the state, but also the empire, and the company are full subjects of international law; this three-headed structure looks like a Cerberus and makes evident that international law not only regulates the relations between nation states, but also between states, empires, and companies: a centuries old crisis encircles the Westphalian system. Above all, Cerberus not only incarnates international law; the same three subjects have inveterately operated as agents of modern imperialism. This insight suggests a second version of the metaphor of Cerberus―that of imperialism itself. Just as political theory has found in Hobbes’ Leviathan the beast that symbolizes the terror the absolutist and totalitarian states are capable of inspiring, Cerberus can be the monster that epitomizes the destruction and horror mobilized by imperialism.

Keywords:   Imperialism, Grotius, state, empire, transnational companies, Cerberus, Peace of Westphalia, Westphalian system

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