This Article reconsiders the prevalent ahistorical assumption that international law began with the Treaty of Westphalia. It gathers together considerable historical evidence to conclude that the ancient world, particularly the New Kingdom period in Egypt or Kemet from 1570-1070 BCE, deployed all three of what today we would call sources of international law. African states predating the modern European nation state by nearly 6000 years engaged in treaty relations (the Treaty of Kadesh), and applied rules of custom (the MA 'AT) and general principles of law (as enumerated in the Egyptian Bill of Rights). While Egyptologists and a few international lawyers have acknowledged these facts, scholarly attention to the ancient origins of contemporary international law has been sporadic and at times openly hostile to the proposition that international law may have originated in Africa and not in Europe. Challenging the Eurocentric mythology of international law's origins upends traditional verities and forces us to reconsider whether contemporary international law owes as much to Africa as it does to far more recent developments, including the colonial encounter.
Jeremy I. Levitt, African Origins of International Law: Myth or Reality? 19 UCLA J. Int'l L. Foreign Aff. 113 (2015)