International Order And Sovereign Nation-states
Like Alexander VI, Grotius's goal was to reduce the conflicts among the various European nations that were beginning to assemble overseas empires but without recourse to a universal ruler such as the pope or the Holy Roman Emperor. His De iure belli ac pacis (Concerning the law of war and peace; 1625) was a lengthy analysis of the causes of war that ultimately proposed rules for international relations that would not end all wars but, if followed, reduce their number. Increasingly, the issues associated with international order and dealt with in terms of international law came to focus almost exclusively on relations among European nations to the exclusion of any participation by other nations in the creation of international order. The building blocks of this international order were the sovereign nation-states that were developing in Europe and were expected to work in concert to maintain that order. Grotius's work marked a withdrawal from the conception of all mankind forming a single community subject to the terms of the natural law under the leadership of emperor or pope.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a number of important European thinkers developed theories of international law designed to mitigate if not end the horrors of war. These theorists, Samuel Pufendorf (1632–1694), Emmerich de Vattel (1714–1767), Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), to name only the most famous, sought to create an international order that did not depend on belief in God but on a purely rational analysis of the human situation in keeping with the secular rationalism of the Enlightenment.
During the nineteenth century a new stage of thinking and practice regarding international order developed. At the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) the major powers, England, Prussia, Russia, Austria (later joined by France), formed the Quadruple Alliance and claimed responsibility for maintaining peace in Europe. Seeing the possibility of revolutions influenced by French revolutionary thought as the greatest threat to peace, these countries asserted the right to restore rulers ousted by revolutionary means as a way of stabilizing European politics. A series of congresses between 1818 and 1822 settled peacefully disputes that might otherwise have led to war, but these efforts faded after 1822 when the English withdrew from participation. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, however, Otto von Bismarck, the German chancellor, sponsored a conference in Berlin (1884–1885) to regulate European entry into Africa so that the rush to obtain African land did not lead to wars among the competing European states. This was the last gasp of the European congress system for regulating international affairs.
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