Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy

Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy

Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy

Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy


The acceptance of human rights and minority rights, the increasing role of international financial institutions, and globalization have led many observers to question the continued viability of the sovereign state. Here a leading expert challenges this conclusion. Stephen Krasner contends that states have never been as sovereign as some have supposed. Throughout history, rulers have been motivated by a desire to stay in power, not by some abstract adherence to international principles. Organized hypocrisy -- the presence of longstanding norms that are frequently violated -- has been an enduring attribute of international relations

Political leaders have usually but not always honored international legal sovereignty, the principle that international recognition should be accorded only to juridically independent sovereign states, while treating Westphalian sovereignty, the principle that states have the right to exclude external authority from their own territory, in a much more provisional way. In some instances violations of the principles of sovereignty have been coercive, as in the imposition of minority rights on newly created st


The major theories of international politics—neorealism, neoliberalism, the English school, constructivism, world culture—are examples of more general perspectives on the nature of social life. One fundamental divide is between actor-oriented theories that take actors as the ontological givens and sociological (for lack of a better word) theories that take institutional structures as the ontological givens. These two approaches have different understandings about the nature of actors or agents and institutions. Indeed, such basic terms as actor and institution can only be comprehended from within a particular theoretical context. Webster's dictionary is not helpful.

For actor-oriented perspectives, the actors and their preferences are exogenous; actor-oriented theories do not attempt to explain them. Institutions are formal or informal structures of norms and rules that are created by actors to increase their utility by, for instance, providing additional information or enforcing contracts. the strategies of actors, their policy choices, but not their underlying desires, their preferences, can be affected by institutions. This does not mean that institutions always produce optimal outcomes. Suboptimality might result, for instance, from path-dependent processes, or limited information.

This study begins with an actor-oriented perspective. the actors, however, are not states, as is the case for neoliberalism and neorealism. Assuming states as the starting point is not useful because the aim of this project is to understand how certain attributes associated with statehood—international recognition and autonomy—have actually operated. Rather, this study takes rulers, political leaders who make policy decisions, as the ontological givens. I assume that rulers want to remain in office, whatever that office might be, and to promote the security, prosperity, and values of their supporters, whether they be a national electorate or the presidential guard.

Sociological theories begin with institutional structures. Institutions are formal and informal rules and norms that generate other more specific entities or agents. Professors could not exist without universities or generals without armies. Relations among individuals or groups are conditioned by, or a manifestation of, the institutional arrangements within which they are embedded. the interests and power of actors are defined by the . . .

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