The Law of Nations and the New World

The Law of Nations and the New World

The Law of Nations and the New World

The Law of Nations and the New World

Excerpt

Canada's new Constitution "recognizes and affirms" the "existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada." Constitutional force has thus been given to rights which are difficult to define and have been of doubtful legality. One of the issues that the courts may have to address is whether the aboriginal rights enshrined in the Constitution preserve the sovereignty and right of self-government possessed by Amerindians before the age of European discovery and colonial expansion. The Law of Nations and the New World will help to place any such argument in historical context.

When one reflects upon the rights set out in our Constitution, fundamental questions arise about the European occupation of the New World. What were the philosophical and legal justifications of colonial expansion? What were the arguments advanced to defend the subjection of the Amerindians and the creation of European hegemony? Were any voices raised in opposition and, if so, what was the basis for such opposition? Were the actions of the colonizers lawful when viewed from the perspective of developing international law? What was the method of claiming title in the New World and was this method lawful? What is the basis for a claim that surviving aboriginal peoples possess the attributes of sovereignty? Did theologians defend the rights of the Amerindians or rationalize the claims of the colonists?

In answering these questions The Law of Nations and the New World explores the ideology of European colonial expansion into the New World, describing and evaluating the legal, theological and philosophical justifications of the colonizers and their sponsors. Consistent with their academic interests, Professor Green deals with the legal . . .

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