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PUBLIC RIGHT. - Immanuel Kant, The Philosophy of Law: An Exposition of the Fundamental Principles of Jurisprudence as the Science of Right 
The Philosophy of Law: An Exposition of the Fundamental Principles of Jurisprudence as the Science of Right, by Immanuel Kant, trans. W. Hastie (Edinburgh: Clark, 1887).
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The Right of Nations and International Law.
Nature and Division of the Right of Nations.
The individuals, who make up a People, may be regarded as Natives of the Country sprung by natural descent from a Common Ancestry (congeniti), although this may not hold entirely true in detail. Again, they may be viewed according to the intellectual and juridical relation, as born of a common political Mother, the Republic, so that they constitute, as it were, a public Family or Nation (gens, natio) whose Members are all related to each other as Citizens of the State. As members of a State, they do not mix with those who live beside them in the state of Nature, considering such to be ignoble. Yet these savages, on account of the lawless freedom they have chosen, regard themselves as superior to civilised peoples; and they constitute tribes and even races, but not States.—The public Right of States (jus publicum Civitatum) in their relations to one another, is what we have to consider under the designation of the ‘Right of Nations.’ Wherever a State, viewed as a Moral Person, acts in relation to another existing in the condition of natural freedom, and consequently in a state of continual war, such Right takes it rise.
The Right of Nations in relation to the State of War may be divided into: 1. The Right of going to War; 2. Right during War; and 3. Right after War, the object of which is to constrain the nations mutually to pass from this state of war, and to found a common Constitution establishing Perpetual Peace. The difference between the Right of individual men or families as related to each other in the state of Nature, and the Right of the Nations among themselves, consists in this, that in the Right of Nations we have to consider not merely a relation of one State to another as a whole, but also the relation of the individual persons in one State to the individuals of another State, as well as to that State as a whole. This difference, however, between the Right of Nations and the Right of Individuals in the mere State of Nature, requires to be determined by elements which can easily be deduced from the conception of the latter.
Elements of the Right of Nations.
The elements of the Right of Nations are as follow:—
1. States, viewed as Nations, in their external relations to one another — like lawless savages — are naturally in a non-juridical condition;
2. This natural condition is a State of War in which the Right of the stronger prevails; and although it may not in fact be always found as a state of actual war and incessant hostility, and although no real wrong is done to any one therein, yet the condition is wrong in itself in the highest degree, and the Nations which form States contiguous to each other are bound mutually to pass out of it;
3. An Alliance of Nations, in accordance with the idea of an original Social Contract, is necessary to protect each other against external aggression and attack, but not involving interference with their several internal difficulties and disputes;
4. This mutual connection by Alliance must dispense with a distinct Sovereign Power, such as is set up in the Civil Constitution; it can only take the form of a Federation, which as such may be revoked on any occasion, and must consequently be renewed from time to time.
This is therefore a Right which comes in as an accessory (in subsidium) of another original Right, in order to prevent the Nations from falling from Right, and lapsing into the state of actual war with each other. It thus issues in the idea of a Fædus Amphictyonum.
Right of Going to War as related to the Subjects of the State.
We have then to consider, in the first place, the original Right of free States to go to War with each other as being still in a state of Nature, but as exercising this Right in order to establish some condition of society approaching the juridical state. And, first of all, the question arises as to what Right the State has in relation to its own Subjects, to use them in order to make war against other States, to employ their property and even their lives for this purpose, or at least to expose them to hazard and danger; and all this in such a way that it does not depend upon their own personal judgment whether they will march into the field of war or not, but the Supreme Command of the Sovereign claims to settle and dispose of them thus.
This Right appears capable of being easily established. It may be grounded upon the Right which every one has to do with what is his own as he will. Whatever one has made substantially for himself, he holds as his incontestable property. The following, then, is such a deduction as a mere Jurist would put forward.
There are various natural Products in a country which, as regards the number and quantity in which they exist, must be considered as specially produced (artefacta) by the work of the State; for the country would not yield them to such extent were it not under the Constitution of the State and its regular administrative Government, or if the inhabitants were still living in the State of Nature. Sheep, cattle, domestic fowl,—the most useful of their kind,—swine, and such like, would either be used up as necessary food or destroyed by beasts of prey in the district in which I live, so that they would entirely disappear, or be found in very scant supplies, were it not for the Government securing to the inhabitants their acquisitions and property. This holds likewise of the population itself, as we see in the case of the American deserts; and even were the greatest industry applied in those regions—which is not yet done—there might be but a scanty population. The inhabitants of any country would be but sparsely sown here and there were it not for the protection of Government; because without it they could not spread themselves with their households upon a territory which was always in danger of being devastated by enemies or by wild beasts of prey; and further, so great a multitude of men as now live in any one country could not otherwise obtain sufficient means of support. Hence, as it can be said of vegetable growths, such as potatoes, as well as of domesticated animals, that because the abundance in which they are found is a product of human labour, they may be used, destroyed, and consumed by man; so it seems that it may be said of the Sovereign as the Supreme Power in the State, that he has the Right to lead his Subjects, as being for the most part productions of his own, to war, as if it were to the chase, and even to march them to the field of battle, as if it were on a pleasure excursion.
This principle of Right may be supposed to float dimly before the mind of the Monarch, and it certainly holds true at least of the lower animals which may become the property of man. But such a principle will not at all apply to men, especially when viewed as citizens who must be regarded as members of the State, with a share in the legislation, and not merely as means for others but as Ends in themselves. As such they must give their free consent, through their representatives, not only to the carrying on of war generally, but to every separate declaration of war; and it is only under this limiting condition that the State has a Right to demand their services in undertakings so full of danger.
We would therefore deduce this Right rather from the duty of the Sovereign to the people than conversely. Under this relation the people must be regarded as having given their sanction; and, having the Right of voting, they may be considered, although thus passive in reference to themselves individually, to be active in so far as they represent the Sovereignty itself.
Right of Going to War in relation to Hostile States.
Viewed as in the state of Nature, the Right of Nations to go to War and to carry on hostilities is the legitimate way by which they prosecute their Rights by their own power when they regard themselves as injured; and this is done because in that state the method of a juridical Process, although the only one proper to settle such disputes, cannot be adopted.
The threatening of War is to be distinguished from the active injury of a first Aggression, which again is distinguished from the general outbreak of Hostilities. A threat or menace may be given by the active preparation of Armaments, upon which a Right of Prevention (jus præventionis) is founded on the other side, or merely by the formidable increase of the power of another State (potestas tremenda) by acquisition of Territory. Lesion of a less powerful country may be involved merely in the condition of a more powerful neighbour prior to any action at all; and in the State of Nature an attack under such circumstances would be warrantable. This international relation is the foundation of the Right of Equilibrium, or of the ‘balance of Power,’ among all the States that are in active contiguity to each other.
The Right to go to War is constituted by any overt act of Injury. This includes any arbitrary Retaliation or act of Reprisal (retorsio) as a satisfaction taken by one people for an offence committed by another, without any attempt being made to obtain reparation in a peaceful way. Such an act of retaliation would be similar in kind to an outbreak of hostilities without a previous Declaration of War. For if there is to be any Right at all during the state of war, something analogous to a Contract must be assumed, involving acceptance on the one side of the declaration on the other, and amounting to the fact that they both will to seek their Right in this way.
Right during War.
The determination of what constitutes Right in War, is the most difficult problem of the Right of Nations and International Law. It is very difficult even to form a conception of such a Right, or to think of any Law in this lawless state without falling into a contradiction. Inter arma silent leges. It must then be just the right to carry on War according to such principles as render it always still possible to pass out of that natural condition of the states in their external relations to each other, and to enter into a condition of Right.
No war of independent States against each other, can rightly be a war of Punishment (bellum punitivum). For punishment is only in place under the relation of a Superior (imperantis) to a Subject (subditum); and this is not the relation of the States to one another. Neither can an international war be ‘a war of Extermination’ (bellum internicinum), nor even ‘a war of Subjugation’ (bellum subjugatorium); for this would issue in the moral extinction of a State by its people being either fused into one mass with the conquering State, or being reduced to slavery. Not that this necessary means of attaining to a condition of peace is itself contradictory to the right of a State; but because the idea of the Right of Nations includes merely the conception of an antagonism that is in accordance with principles of external freedom, in order that the State may maintain what is properly its own, but not that it may acquire a condition which, from the aggrandizement of its power, might become threatening to other States.
Defensive measures and means of all kinds are allowable to a State that is forced to war, except such as by their use would make the Subjects using them unfit to be citizens; for the State would thus make itself unfit to be regarded as a person capable of participating in equal rights in the international relations according to the Right of Nations. Among these forbidden means are to be reckoned the appointment of Subjects to act as spies, or engaging Subjects or even strangers to act as assassins, or poisoners (in which class might well be included the so-called sharpshooters who lurk in ambush for individuals), or even employing agents to spread false news. In a word, it is forbidden to use any such malignant and perfidious means as would destroy the confidence which would be requisite to establish a lasting peace thereafter.
It is permissible in war to impose exactions and contributions upon a conquered enemy; but it is not legitimate to plunder the people in the way of forcibly depriving individuals of their property. For this would be robbery, seeing it was not the conquered people but the State under whose government they were placed that carried on the war by means of them. All exactions should be raised by regular Requisition, and Receipts ought to be given for them, in order that when peace is restored the burden imposed on the country or the province may be proportionately borne.
Right after War.
The Right that follows after War, begins at the moment of the Treaty of Peace and refers to the consequences of the war. The conqueror lays down the conditions under which he will agree with the conquered power to form the conclusion of Peace. Treaties are drawn up; not indeed according to any Right that it pertains to him to protect, on account of an alleged lesion by his opponent, but as taking this question upon himself, he bases the right to decide it upon his own power. Hence the conqueror may not demand restitution of the cost of the war; because he would then have to declare the war of his opponent to be unjust. And even although he should adopt such an argument, he is not entitled to apply it; because he would have to declare the war to be punitive, and he would thus in turn inflict an injury. To this right belongs also the Exchange of Prisoners, which is to be carried out without ransom and without regard to equality of numbers.
Neither the conquered State nor its Subjects, lose their political liberty by conquest of the country, so as that the former should be degraded to a colony, or the latter to slaves; for otherwise it would have been a penal war, which is contradictory in itself. A colony or a province is constituted by a people which has its own constitution, legislation, and territory, where persons belonging to another State are merely strangers, but which is nevertheless subject to the supreme executive power of another State. This other State is called the ‘mother-country.’ It is ruled as a daughter, but has at the same time its own form of government, as in a separate Parliament under the presidency of a Viceroy (civitas hybrida). Such was Athens in relation to different islands; and such is at present  the relation of Great Britain to Ireland.
Still less can Slavery be deduced as a rightful institution, from the conquest of a people in war; for this would assume that the war was of a punitive nature. And least of all can a basis be found in war for a hereditary Slavery, which is absurd in itself, since guilt cannot be inherited from the criminality of another.
Further, that an Amnesty is involved in the conclusion of a Treaty of Peace, is already implied in the very idea of a Peace.
The Rights of Peace.
The Rights of Peace are:—
1. The Right to be in Peace when War is in the neighbourhood, or the Right of Neutrality.
2. The Right to have Peace secured so that it may continue when it has been concluded, that is, the Right of Guarantee.
3. The Right of the several States to enter into a mutual Alliance, so as to defend themselves in common against all external or even internal attacks. This Right of Federation, however, does not extend to the formation of any League for external aggression or internal aggrandizement.
Right as against an Unjust Enemy.
The Right of a State against an unjust Enemy has no limits, at least in respect of quality as distinguished from quantity or degree. In other words, the injured State may use—not, indeed, any means, but yet—all those means that are permissible and in reasonable measure in so far as they are in its power, in order to assert its Right to what is its own. But what then is an unjust enemy according to the conceptions of the Right of Nations, when, as holds generally of the state of Nature, every State is judge in its own cause? It is one whose publicly expressed Will, whether in word or deed, betrays a maxim which, if it were taken as a universal rule, would make a state of Peace among the nations impossible, and would necessarily perpetuate the state of Nature. Such is the violation of public Treaties, with regard to which it may be assumed that any such violation concerns all nations by threatening their freedom, and that they are thus summoned to unite against such a wrong, and to take away the power of committing it. But this does not include the Right to partition and appropriate the country, so as to make a State as it were disappear from the earth; for this would be an injustice to the people of that State, who cannot lose their original Right to unite into a Commonwealth, and to adopt such a new Constitution as by its nature would be unfavourable to the inclination for war.
Further, it may be said that the expression ‘an unjust enemy in the state of Nature’ is pleonastic; for the state of Nature is itself a state of injustice. A just Enemy would be one to whom I would do wrong in offering resistance; but such a one would really not be my Enemy.
Perpetual Peace and a Permanent Congress of Nations.
The natural state of Nations as well as of individual men is a state which it is a duty to pass out of, in order to enter into a legal state. Hence, before this transition occurs, all the Right of Nations and all the external property of States acquirable or maintainable by war, are merely provisory; and they can only become peremptory in a universal Union of States analogous to that by which a Nation becomes a State. It is thus only that a real state of Peace could be established. But with the too great extension of such a Union of States over vast regions any government of it, and consequently the protection of its individual members, must at last become impossible; and thus a multitude of such corporations would again bring round a state of war. Hence the Perpetual Peace, which is the ultimate end of all the Right of Nations, becomes in fact an impracticable idea. The political principles, however, which aim at such an end, and which enjoin the formation of such unions among the States as may promote a continuous approximation to a Perpetual Peace, are not impracticable; they are as practicable as this approximation itself, which is a practical problem involving a duty, and founded upon the Right of individual men and States.
Such a Union of States, in order to maintain Peace, may be called a Permanent Congress of Nations; and it is free to every neighbouring State to join in it. A union of this kind, so far at least as regards the formalities of the Right of Nations in respect of the preservation of peace, was presented in the first half of this century, in the Assembly of the States-General at the Hague. In this Assembly most of the European Courts, and even the smallest Republics, brought forward their complaints about the hostilities which were carried on by the one against the other. Thus the whole of Europe appeared like a single Federated State, accepted as Umpire by the several nations in their public differences. But in place of this agreement, the Right of Nations afterwards survived only in books; it disappeared from the cabinets, or, after force had been already used, it was relegated in the form of theoretical deductions to the obscurity of Archives.
By such a Congress is here meant only a voluntary combination of different States that would be dissoluble at any time, and not such a union as is embodied in the United States of America, founded upon a political constitution, and therefore indissoluble. It is only by a Congress of this kind that the idea of a Public Right of Nations can be established, and that the settlement of their differences by the mode of a civil process, and not by the barbarous means of war, can be realized.