BOOK PREVIEW [coming May 2017] Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue. Chapter Four: How far can sovereign States cooperate together and limit their freedom without sacrificing their sovereignty?

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics

A Distributive Justice Issue





Chapter Two demonstrated that although sovereignty means supreme authority, that authority always accepts limitations—i.e. sovereignty is not absolute. Consequently, sovereignty is always—to an extent—shared. However, Chapter Three showed that the way in which sovereignty may be shared is not always just, fair, or offering the participant agents the same relative situation—e.g. if there is unbalanced or unilateral sharing, when only one of the agents is actually dictating how to proceed. So, it is necessary for the success of the ‘egalitarian shared sovereignty’ model to demonstrate how these limitations work, and also, that they do not imply involuntary interference with the sovereignty of any of the participant agents. Therefore, before defining the model of ‘egalitarian shared sovereignty’ in detail, a question must be answered: how multiple agents can cooperate together, limit their freedom without negative consequences either de jure or de facto, so that none of the agents dictate to the other parties what to do or not to do. This problem arises because sovereignty is mainly seen as a concept that implies a single agent, limited in one way or another. However, this book assumes the existence of multiple agents that will have an equal relative position in respect to the third territory—i.e. a plurality of agents that have equal power, that are simultaneously at the same level—legally speaking, that are sovereign at the same time over the same territory and population.

In order to demonstrate how two sovereign States can share their sovereignty—i.e. how far sovereign States can cooperate together and limit their freedom without sacrificing their sovereignty—it is convenient to see: a) firstly, what the concept of ‘sovereignty’ means and implies by examining its subatomic or fundamental elements; and b) secondly, how a concept with similar features operates and accepts limitations without changing its nature. The former will be achieved by using Wesley N. Hohfeld language for legal analysis. By mastering a number of basic legal concepts it will be possible to analyse a complex one such as ‘sovereignty’, avoid misunderstandings with regards to its meaning and implications, and have a more clearly defined picture of how limitations operate without changing its nature. The latter, by reference to ‘self-ownership’ as a concept. As in the case of sovereignty, self-ownership establishes a particular relationship between an agent and something: supreme authority. Unlike sovereignty, this supreme authority is present at the level of the individual. In other words, self-ownership defines the supreme authority an individual has over himself; sovereignty defines the supreme authority a State has over a territory and people. Thus, at first glance both self-ownership and sovereignty appear to be supreme, singular and hence not shareable. More explicitly, self-ownership has the same kind of relation to an individual that sovereignty has to a State: both self-ownership and sovereignty are essential characteristics in defining a free individual and a free State, respectively. Then, if limitations in the form of self- or external constraints can be applied to self-ownership, limitations in the form of self- and external obligations can be applied to sovereignty. In consequence, as self- or externally imposed limitations in regard to self-ownership allow any individual to cooperate with any other individual, so self- or externally imposed obligations on sovereignty enable a State to cooperate with other States too without diminishing its sovereignty.
More preview posts coming in 2017.

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