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Part I Histories, Ch.5 The Critique of Classical Thought during the Interwar Period: Vattel and Van Vollenhoven

Emmanuelle Tourme-Jouannet

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 July 2024

Customary international law — General principles of international law — Sources of international law

This chapter connects the larger theme of the link between contemporary law and classical international thought to the ideas posited by two jurists—Cornelis Van Vollenhoven and Emer de Vattel. In 1919, Van Vollenhoven published a small work in which he issued a fierce critique of classical (legal) thought, which, according to him, was embodied by the eighteenth-century jurist, Emer de Vattel. The classical conception of international law was never expounded more clearly than in Vattel’s 1758 work, Le droit des gens, ou principes de la loi naturelle, appliqués à la conduit et aux affaires des Nations et des Souverains. Hence, by studying Vattel’s and Van Vollenhoven’s doctrines, of which the latter offers a distorted reflection of the former, it is possible to contribute to elucidating the concerns, weaknesses, and current incarnations of that classical model.

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