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International Order and Justice

The End of Westphalia? Re-envisioning Sovereignty

Debates about the evolution, erosion and indeed resilience of sovereignty have existed for decades. This project will explore a wide range of issues that have altered the theory and practice of state sovereignty – including human rights and the use of force for humanitarian reasons, norms relating to governance, the war on terror, economic globalization, the natural environment, and changes in strategic thinking.

It has long been acknowledged that sovereignty has never been an absolute principle; encroachments upon sovereignty have always taken place. Nevertheless, this project will consider if processes at the international and intra-state levels require a reassessment of the contemporary meaning and relevance of sovereignty, in particular as it relates to the constitution of international order.

The concept of 'conditional sovereignty', and the gap between empirical and juridical sovereignty, have taken on a renewed importance in the context of a number of current concerns. The project will bring together a multifaceted range of analyses—economic, social, strategic, political, and normative—in order to approach the question in a holistic manner.

It will focus particular attention to the international norms regarding human rights that have conditioned state sovereignty, whereby sovereignty rests not only on control of territory and recognition, but also upon fulfilling certain standards of human rights and welfare for citizens. The research under this project will deepen understanding of the evolution of state sovereignty and the relationship between the distribution of power and sovereignty. On the basis of this, it will seek to draw out the policy implications for addressing pressing problems which are indelibly linked to state sovereignty.


Page last modified 2019.04.16.

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