The Law of Nations

“However, as it is impossible for the whole race of mankind to be united in one great society, they must necessarily divide into many, and form separate states, commonwealths, and nations, entirely independent of each other, and yet liable to a mutual intercourse. Hence arises a third kind of law to regulate this mutual intercourse, called “the law of nations,” which, as none of these states will acknowledge a superiority in the other, cannot be dictated by any, but depends entirely upon the rules of natural law, or upon mutual compacts, treaties, leagues, and agreements between these several communities: in the construction also of which compacts we have no other rule to resort to, but the law of nature; being the only one to which all the communities are equally subject; and therefore the civil law(c) very justly observes, that quod naturalis ratio inter omnes homines constituit, vocatur jus gentium.” [Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Law of England in Four Books, Vol. 1[1753] INTRODUCTION: OF THE STUDY OF NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, SECTION 1: ON THE STUDY OF THE LAW] [extract; emphasis added]

QUOD NATURALIS RATIO INTER OMNES HOMINES CONSTITUIT, VOCATUR JUS GENTIUM. That which natural reason has established among all men is called the “law of nations.” 1 Bl.Comm. 43; Dig. 1, 1, 9; Inst. 1, 2, 1.

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