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14-15 Grotiana (n.s.) 3 (1993-1994)

handle is hein.journals/grotia13 and id is 1 raw text is: The Challenge of Colonialism:
Grotius and Vitoria on Natural Law and
International Relations'
MARTIN VAN GELDEREN*
1. Introduction
The autumn of 1989 was a time of European euphoria. The tyrants of central
and eastern Europe fell like leaves in a November breeze. They fell steadily
and, in most cases, peacefully. The fall of the Berlin wall and the demise of the
Iron Curtain enthused western liberals. In a notorious article with the symbolic
title The End of History, Francis Fukuyama declared 'the triumph of the west,
of the Western Idea' which 'is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of via-
ble systemic alternatives to Western liberalism.'2
In the autumn of 1994 the ghosts of the past have returned to haunt western
liberals. In the face of violent nationalism in the Balkans, of ethnic cleansing in
the former Yugoslavia, liberal euphoria has evaporated. The triumph of wes-
tern ideas of liberal democracy and human rights is demasked in the tragedy of
Bosnia. The response of the West has shown that modern liberal notions of
world order are based on principles which, to quote Stanley Hoffmann, are all
'flawed and in conflict with one another.'3
The aim of this paper is to explore if and how the liberal ideal of human
rights, as it is faced with stern criticism from realists in international politics
I Some parts of this paper were presented to the German Historikertag, Sektion 'Euro-
paische Kultur und Menschenrechte,' Hannover, September 1992 and to the research
seminar of the Department of History at the Technische Universitat Berlin. See Martin
Van Gelderen, 'Vitoria, Grotius and human rights. The early experience of colonialism
in Spanish and Dutch political thought' in Wolfgang Schmale (ed.), Human rights and
cultural diversity (Goldbach, 1993), 215-35. In developing my argument I have bene-
fitted tremendously from discussions at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study
(NIAS) with lain Hampsher-Monk, Hans Erich Bodeker, Wyger Velema and Pim den
Boer.
* Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS), Wassenaar /University of Sussex.
2 Francis Fukuyama, 'The End of History,' The National Interest (Summer, 1989), 3.
3 Stanley Hoffmann, 'Delusions of world order,' New York Review of Books, 39, no 7
(1992), 37.

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