While reading a news article on someone being extradited from overseas to face justice in the U.S. it started me thinking about the history of the extradition process. Wikipedia and The History Vault both mention extradition (also known as rendition) as being ancient concepts. Wikipedia dates it back to the 13 century BCE:

when an Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramesses II, negotiated an extradition treaty with Hittite King, Hattusili III.

The History Vault also cites Ramses II, but hints at more about the ancient origins of extradition practices:

As a concept, it originated with the Ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilisations. Following an unsuccessful Hittite invasion of Egypt, an extradition agreement formed part of a peace treaty signed between Ramses II and the Hittite King, Hattusili II. Amazingly, this text still exists. [emphasis mine]

The ancient Egyptian example is clearly cited by both sources, but I have not yet been able find a specific reference to an example of ancient Chinese extradition / rendition practices or treaties. Thus I don't know if the ancient Chinese example(s) are from the same, or an earlier, or a later time frame. The History Vault article says no more about it than the highlighted portion cited above.

Do the ancient Chinese origins pre-date the documented example from ancient Egypt?

  • It must have been about dissidents and contenders to the monarch's power, rather than fugitives from criminal justice.
    – Rohit
    Oct 23, 2018 at 4:29

1 Answer 1


I can find no references to an extradition treaty earlier than the Egypt/Hittite one that you mention. A number of sources beyond Wikipedia describe it as the most ancient.

As an example:

Kai I. Rebane in their Extradition and Individual Rights: The Need for an International Criminal Court to Safeguard Individual Rights published by Fordham International Law Journal in 1995 states:

The Roots of Extradition

The practice of extradition originated in the ancient middle- and far-eastern civilizations as a matter of courtesy and good will between sovereigns. The earliest recorded extradition treaty dates to 1280 B.C., between Ramses II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, and King Hattusli III of the Hittites, and provided for the mutual return of criminals. The first, similar provision appeared in western Europe in 1174 A.D., between Henry II of England and William the Lion, King of Scotland. Over the following centuries, however, extradition remained an ad hoc arrangement between sovereigns, performed as a need arose. During the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, the Chinese Qing State extradited criminals from neighboring Korea, Vietnam, and Burma on the basis of reciprocity. The Chinese authorities extended their control over the rendition process by instructing the returned individual's government as to the proper method of punishment.

Emphasis mine.

Kabine in turn cites Imperial China's Border Control Law by R. Randle Edwards to which I do not have access.

Based on this citation it seems unlikely the the Chinese extraditions were older than the Egyptian ones.

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