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From Bilateralism to Community InterestEssays in Honour of Bruno Simma$
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Ulrich Fastenrath, Rudolf Geiger, Daniel-Erasmus Khan, Andreas Paulus, Sabine von Schorlemer, and Christoph Vedder

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588817

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588817.001.0001

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The Political Theology of Trade Law: The Scholastic Contribution

The Political Theology of Trade Law: The Scholastic Contribution

Chapter:
(p.90) The Political Theology of Trade Law: The Scholastic Contribution
Source:
From Bilateralism to Community Interest
Author(s):

Martti Koskenniemi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588817.003.0009

In his massive opus on legal and political theory, the Jesuit Francisco Suárez (1548–1617) addresses at great length the distinction between natural law and the jus gentium (law of nations). The latter, he suggests, is deprived of the kind of absolute necessity that characterizes the former and should rather be understood in instrumental terms. While natural law is always the same and never varies, the jus gentium contains those legal provisions that have been historically adopted so as to contribute to the fulfilment of the necessity embodied in natural law in the context of actual human communities. Among institutions of jus gentium, Suárez lists the freedom of trade. This chapter revisits the ideological ancestry of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the Christian narrative of the power of humans over things (and thus on each other) through the worldwide application of dominium proprietatis — the right of free use and exchange of private property.

Keywords:   Francisco Suárez, natural law, jus gentium, free trade, dominium proprietatis, private property, World Trade Organization

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