Re-Examining Sovereignty: From Classical Theory to the Global Age

Re-Examining Sovereignty: From Classical Theory to the Global Age

Re-Examining Sovereignty: From Classical Theory to the Global Age

Re-Examining Sovereignty: From Classical Theory to the Global Age

Synopsis

This complete documentary history of the idea of sovereignty uses a diachronic perspective to illuminate the characteristic feature of modern sovereignty: the anthropomorphism of nations.

Excerpt

In the contemporary international system it is difficult to find a political notion more controversial than sovereignty. Since the end of the Cold War, academics as well as practitioners have identified the concept of sovereignty as one of the most critical and elusive topics. It is widely argued that the concept of sovereignty is seriously challenged in present international society. The traditional international system, which is usually understood as a ‘Westphalian’ state-centric system, has been in transition. The globalisation of the market economy, the expansion of the activities of international institutions, the development of high technologies, the conflicts of minorities with central governments and the growing concern about human rights are frequently mentioned as examples which indicate the demise of state sovereignty.

It was almost impossible during the Cold War to imagine international operations like the Gulf War and the ensuing intervention for the protection of the Kurds in Northern Iraq. Multinational interventions under the authority of the United Nations took place in Somalia and Haiti as well. It is difficult to apply the textbook theory of sovereignty to Cambodia in the period when the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia supervised and controlled Cambodian administrations. The setting up of the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda leading to the international criminal court is without doubt an innovative achievement. It is claimed that the concept of sovereignty is, if not disappearing, losing its traditional foundation.

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