The Family of Nations as an Element of the Ideology of Colonialism

In: Journal of the History of International Law / Revue d'histoire du droit international
Harald Kleinschmidt Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba Japan

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The article links the use of the concept of ‘civilisation’ with the nineteenth-century perception of the international system, for which the ‘family of nations’ was current as a technical term in international legal theory for the international legal community. Following the distinction between state sovereignty and subjecthood under international law, international legal theorists denied the latter to most states outside Europe and classed them as ‘uncivilised’, even though their governments had concluded treaties under international law with European and the us governments and had thereby been formally recognised as sovereigns. In many cases, these treaties were agreements concerning the establishment of ‘Protectorates’ as the paramount type of dependency under the control of a European or the us government. In this context, international law became the house law of the ‘Family of Nations’, which extended across the globe while denying access to it to many states.

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