Vattel: Le droit des Gens (1758)

This text provides one of the first reflections on the principles that would later lead to an international position against the destruction of heritage in wartime. At the same time, it still clearly outlines the right of a conquering party to take »booty« from an enemy without necessarily specifying whether this would exclude cultural assets. In this regard it differs distinctly from later texts, most notably the Hague Convention of 1899/1907. Despite indicating the need to preserve buildings of artistic merit, this text contains many aspects that can be regarded as having justified a treatment of European nation-states that differed from that of non-European groups whose statehood Europeans did not necessarily acknowledge. During the nineteenth century, such positions led to differences in treatment and consideration of peoples and their cultural assets in Europe versus societies subjected to colonisation.

commented by Elsje van Kessel

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