Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
LAW OF NATIONS (jus gentium)
The common element, even though unwritten, in the actual laws of various peoples. Based on the natural law, the jus gentium is a synthesis of the legislation enacted by different countries which reflects a basic similarity in spite of the differences of culture and political structure.
First clearly distinguished from natural law by St. Isidore of Seville (560-636), the law of nations is not the same as international law. The latter aims to regulate the mutual relations of states as states. The jus gentium is a general law within all nations, not between nations, and deals with individuals without considering their nationality. It is supranational rather than international.