Ernest Nys (1851–1920), the first professional historian of international law, expressed in his Les origines du droit international of 1893 confidence that international law was developing in a beneficial direction. The Hegelian dialectic between the national and the universal would be resolved in favour of the latter. The three great ideas that had dominated world history—progress, freedom, and the ‘idea of humanity’—may not immediately lead to a world State, but they did allow the hope that war would soon be extinct as an instrument of politics.1 Nys began his...
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