Emer de Vattel
|Emer de Vattel|
25 April 1714|
Couvet, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
|Died||28 December 1767
Couvet, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
|Notable work||The Law of Nations|
|Political philosophy, Moral philosophy, Social philosophy|
Emer de Vattel (25 April 1714 – 28 December 1767) was a Swiss philosopher, diplomat, and legal expert whose theories laid the foundation of modern international law and political philosophy. He was born in Couvet in Neuchâtel, Switzerland in 1714 and died in 1767 of edema. He was largely influenced in his philosophy by Gottfried Leibniz and Christian Wolff and strove to integrate their ideas into the legal and political system. He is most famous for his 1758 work Le Droit des gens; ou, Principes de la loi naturelle appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des nations et des souverains (in English, The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Applied to the Conduct and to the Affairs of Nations and of Sovereigns). This work was his claim to fame and won him enough prestige to be appointed as a councilor to the court of King Augustus III of Saxony.
The Law of Nations
Vattel's masterpiece was largely influenced by a book titled Jus Gentium Methodo Scientifica Pertractum (The Law of Nations According to the Scientific Method) by Christian Wolff. Vattel's work began, in fact, by translating Wolff's text from Latin, and adding his own thoughts. Vattel's work was also heavily influenced by Gottfried Leibniz and Hugo Grotius. Focused largely on the rights and obligations of citizens and states, Vattel's work also had ramifications for Just War Theory as it outlined international diplomacy as we now know it.
Vattel elucidated the "Golden Rule of Sovereigns":
One cannot complain when he is treated as he treats others.
Vattel’s Law of Nations was translated into English in 1760, based on the French original of 1758. A Dublin translation of 1787 does not include notes from the original nor posthumous notes added to the 1773 French edition. Several other English editions were based on the edition of 1760. However, an English edition from 1793 includes Vattel’s later thoughts, as did the London 1797 edition. The 1797 edition has a detailed table of contents and margin titles for subsections.
Charles W.F. Dumas sent Benjamin Franklin three original French copies of de Vattel's Le droit des gens (The Law of Nations). Franklin presented one copy to the Library Company of Philadelphia. On December 9, 1775, Franklin thanked Dumas: 
It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising State make it necessary to frequently consult the Law of Nations.
Two notable copies of The Law of Nations owned by the New York Society Library have been associated with US President George Washington. One copy had been borrowed by Washington on 8 October 1789, along with a copy of Vol. 12 of the Commons Debates, containing transcripts from Great Britain's House of Commons. When the staff of the Washington museum at Mount Vernon heard about the overdue books, they were unable to locate them, but purchased a second copy of the de Vattel work for US$12,000. This identical copy was ceremoniously "returned" 221 years late on 20 May 2010. The library waived the unpaid late-fees.
Vattel was one of a number of 18th century European scholars who wrote on international law and were "well known in America" at the time, including Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, Cornelius van Bynkershoek, Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, Thomas Rutherforth, and Wolff. The Law of Nations has been described as "unrivaled among such treatises in its influence on the American founders".
Vattel is also cited extensively in Lysander Spooner's The Unconstitutionality Of Slavery and appears to be a key Enlightenment thinker in Spooner's thought.
US Department of Defense 2015 Law of War Manual
In 2015 the United States Department of Defense published its Law of War Manual. Vattel is cited after Hugo Grotius and before Francis Lieber and Hersch Lauterpacht as a subsidiary means and an authority in determining the rules of law of war.
- Ignatieff, Michael (17 February 2002). "Barbarians at the Gates". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
- Emer de Vattel (1916). Le droit des gens ou principes de la loi naturelle Appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des Nations et des Souverains par M. de Vattel. II (Reproduction of Books III and IV of Edition of 1758). Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution. p. 79. Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via Internet Archive.
- Emer de Vattel (2008). The Law of Nations, Or the Principles of Law of Nature Apllied to the Conduct and the Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns with Three Early Essays on the Origin and Nature of Natural Law and on Luxury, Edited and with an Introduction by Bèla Kapossy and Richard Whatmore, translated by Thomas Nugent. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Retrieved 8 May 2011 – via Online Library of Liberty.
- Emer de Vattel (1916). The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law Apllied to the Conduct and the Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns, Translation of the Edition of 1758 by Charles Fenwick with an Introduction by Albert de Lapradelle. III. Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution. p. xxx. Retrieved 12 April 2016 – via Internet Archive.
- Emer de Vattel (1916). "Preface by James Brown Scott". Le droit des gens ou principes de la loi naturelle Appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des Nations et des Souverains par M. de Vattel. I (Reproduction of Books I and II of Edition of 1758). Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution. p. 1a-2a. Retrieved 13 April 2016 – via Internet Archive.
- U.S. Steel Corp. v. Multistate Tax Comm'n., 434 U.S. 452, 462 (1977).
- "George Washington's 221-year overdue library book: A timeline", The Week, 21 May 2010, retrieved 3 May 2011
- Questions de droit naturel, et observations sur le Traité du droit de la nature de M. le baron de Wolf, A Berne : Chez la Societé typographique (1762) Internet Archive
- U.S. Department of State: Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State: America’s Founders were inspired by the ideas and values of early Swiss philosophers like Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui and Emer de Vattel, and the 1848 Swiss Constitution was influenced by our own U.S. Constitution. Swiss commitment to democracy is an example for nations and people everywhere who yearn for greater freedoms and human rights
- Ramsey, Michael D. (14 October 2005). "Law of Nations as a Constitutional Obligation" (MS Word document). International Human Rights Colloquium. Georgetown University Law Center. Retrieved 4 May 2011. External link in
- Office of General Counsel, Department of Defense (2015). Department of Defense Law War Manual (PDF). Washington, DC. p. 36. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
- Le loisir philosophique ou pieces diverses de philosophie, de morale et d'amusement par Mr. de Vattel, Dresde : 1747 chez George Conrad Walther via Google Books
- Le droit des gens ou Principes de la loi naturelle appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des nations et des souverains. Tome 1 / par M. de Vattel, Londres : 1758 via Gallica
- Le droit des gens ou Principes de la loi naturelle appliqués à la conduite et aux affaires des nations et des souverains. Tome 2 / par M. de Vattel, Londres : 1758 via Gallica
- The Law of Nations (full text)
- Le droit des gens, Emer de Vattel, Translation of 1758 edition, Ed. Charles Ghequiere Fenwick
- Law of Nations, 1883 Ed. Joseph Chitty, & Edward D. Ingraham
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Vattel, Emeric de". Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 951.
- (French) Peter Haggenmacher,"Vattel, Emer de" in Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse, 02/07/2013.;