Common Rights of Mankind in Gentili, Grotius and Suárez*
Students of the concept of erga omnes1 trace its antecedents to the early recognition of the right of humanitarian intervention, which they often attribute to Grotius.2 Professor Hersch Lauterpacht asserted that Grotius's writings contained "the first authoritative statement of the principle of humanitarian intervention -- the principle that exclusiveness of domestic jurisdiction stops when outrage upon humanity begins."3 However, some of the other principal works on international law before the Peace of Westphalia ( 1648) reveal that the concept of community interests, and the modern right of humanitarian intervention it spawned, is pre-Grotian,4 that it appeared in the writings of Suárez and figured prominently in those of its true progenitor, the earlier Gentili.5
Whether or not under their influence, the International Court of Justice, in the Barcelona Traction case,6 significantly paralleled concepts articulated by these writers, particularly Gentili. To be sure, the contexts were quite____________________
The Grotian scholar Peter Haggenmacher traces the antecedents of the principle of humanitarian intervention even further back, to the "altruistic" 13th-century school of Pope Innocent IV and to the Scholastic writers. Haggenmacher, Sur un passage obscur de Grotius, 51 REVUE D'HISTOIRE DU DROIT295, 301, 304, 313 ( 1983). Haggenmacher's principal work on Grotius is Grotius et la doctrine de la guerre juste ( 1983).