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Title: Constructing the right to war : Alberico Gentili and his receptions in international law
Author: Vergerio, Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 6493 8348
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explains the striking disparity between two narratives about Alberico Gentili, the early modern jurist widely identified as the founder of the classical laws of war. On the one hand, he is conventionally considered as a great humanizer of warfare, a man who tried to use the law to curtail the horrors of war. On the other hand, a few works have emerged suggesting that Gentili was in fact the first to introduce the concept of the enemy of mankind into international law, a concept generally used to justify ruthless forms of violence. In order to explain the tension between these narratives, the thesis investigates both what Gentili was seeking to achieve in his own epoch with his treatise on the laws of war, De iure belli, and how his work was subsequently received over time. Based on an original methodology for the study of great thinkers in International Relations and beyond, the thesis make the following two-fold argument. First, it argues that Gentili's famous treatise on the laws of war is the work of an absolutist who was attempting to elaborate and defend a controversial approach to war and its law. Gentili's pioneering use of the concept of the enemy of mankind must be understood as the cornerstone of this absolutist project, as part and parcel of a broader attempt to grant unprecedented rights to a small group of sovereigns. Second, it argues that the conventional narrative about Gentili as the father of the classical laws of war and as an avant-garde humanitarian only emerged in the late nineteenth century, turning the Italian jurist into a cipher for a particular view of international law and modernity and developing a myth about the importance of his work. This narrative would eventually be enshrined in Carl Schmitt's deeply influential The Nomos of the Earth, and it continues to shape the story of the development of international relations and international law to this day. In making this argument, the thesis challenges some conventional tenets of the history of international law and international relations, reveals a new facet of the disciplinary history of international law, and makes a broader claim about the need to examine debates about the ontology of war in historical perspective.
Supervisor: Nicolaïdis, Kalypso ; Keene, Edward Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available