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Twisted Traditions: The Paradox of Grotian International Law in Colonial Practices

This paper investigates how Grotius's concept of humanity, originally intended to protect the oppressed, was ironically invoked to justify colonial wars and the suppression of native uprisings. Colonial powers often used humanitarian rhetoric to mask the brutality of their conquests and the harsh realities of colonial rule. The supposed moral duty to civilize and Christianize indigenous populations provided a veneer of legitimacy to the violent and coercive practices employed during colonization.

A critical aspect of this exploration is the role of private trading companies, such as the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, which often acted as quasi-governmental entities. These companies implemented and benefited from twisted interpretations of Grotian principles, perpetuating colonial violence and exploitation under the guise of upholding international law. The essay examines the complicity of these companies in perpetuating colonial violence and exploitation, highlighting how they used legal and moral justifications derived from Grotius’s ideas to legitimize their actions.


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