Problematic Sovereignty: Contested Rules and Political Possibilities

By Stephen D. Krasner | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Ethnic wars, transnational concerns for human rights, the Internet, financial crises, multinational corporations, international trade, and more generally, globalization have given rise to the sentiment that sovereignty as it has been conventionally understood is eroding or even withering away. This conclusion has been reached without much sense of the extent to which the present is different from the past, and without much systematic thought about how the concept of sovereignty might be understood and how the rules of sovereignty have actually functioned in the international environment.

Many recent discussions about the status of sovereignty have addressed economic questions—especially the possible loss of state regulatory capacity. However, this volume addresses different and possibly more consequential issues: namely, the way in which basic rules regarding mutual recognition and the exclusion of external authority, what are termed in this study international legal sovereignty and Westphalian sovereignty, are influencing, facilitating, or impeding the resolution of difficult political and economic issues. The rules associated with sovereignty, like any set of rules, may be more or less functional—more or less able to facilitate the realization of political, economic, security, or ideological objectives that are pursued by actors. The conventional rules of sovereignty—that is, to recognize juridically independent territorial entities and exclude external sources of authority from domestic territory—have been widely recognized at least since the early part of the nineteenth century. These rules, which originated in Europe, have spread

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