The Citizen’s Right to Leave His Country: The Concept of Exile in Vattel’s Droit des gens
Based on his combined perspective of natural law and the law of nations, Vattel approached the concept of exile with regard to two specific aspects: the right to leave the country and the right to live somewhere to provide one’s own subsistence. What political rights, and vice versa what duties, did a citizen have to leave his country and what natural rights did any individual have to do so? Uniting these two dimensions into one single legal architecture, Vattel intervened in the international political, military and social debates of the period of the Seven Years’ War and provide answers to questions about rights, duties and responsibilities that were raised by conflict, territorial occupations and population displacement. Finally, deploying the same dual perspective, Vattel distinguished between the general necessary duties of a state to provide asylum to exiles and the imperfect duties that any state had to do so given specific limiting conditions.