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2 - Speaking law: on bare theological and cosmopolitan sovereignty

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 July 2009

Costas Douzinas
Affiliation:
Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Arts Birkbeck College, London
Anne Orford
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
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Summary

Over the last few years, sovereignty has become a dirty word and an endangered concept. The conventional image of sovereignty as absolute, illimitable and indivisible has come under concerted attack on many fronts. In theory, we find it in the debates about humanitarian intervention and cosmopolitanism, the European constitution and federalism, human rights and judicial universal jurisdiction. We see it in the great premium placed on ethics and morality, in the emphasis on the effects of evil and affect of trauma, and in the normative turn in international law and relations. The dominant realist model is being gradually replaced by the so-called constructivists who place rules, morals and principles at the centre of international relations and politics. International lawyers have recently discovered the neo-Kantian programmes of Rawls and Dworkin, and their social democratic version in Habermas, at a point when their domestic proponents have started noticing the slightly unrealistic claims of these grand system-builders.

Globalization and localization have been eating away equally inexorably at the sovereign structure. Human rights, free market and good governance clauses are routinely imposed as preconditions for aid and trade agreements. Economic sanctions are used to protect citizens from their brutal governments. Finally, violence and war have been put in the service of humanity, human rights and the humanitarian agenda of the new world order. Our postmodern just wars have linked violence and occupation with demands for justice and morality.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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