Pluralism of pluralisms [Post 7]

Agents

Cosmopolitanism and sovereignty seem to be at odds because, even acknowledged as being limited, the latter implies a singular supreme authority.[1] Consequently, any arrangement of cosmopolitanism would need to be able to accommodate a plurality of sovereign states in order to bring coordinated, coherent, cohesive, permanent and peaceful solutions to global issues such as territorial disputes. Because sovereign states are the ultimate law-maker and law-interpreter in their respective jurisdictions, it is conceivable in theory and in fact that they may have different legal systems. In that sense, the challenge would be compound: states would have to cooperate without diminishing their respective legal and political spheres if they aimed to remain sovereign; any agreement would have to make a decision about applicable law in the situation in question that concerns the involved agents.  

An often-overlooked aspect when dealing with sovereignty and cosmopolitanism and, as a result territorial disputes, is that they centre the attention only on states disregarding all other agents. An individual offers four different levels of analysis: a) in their individuality (I); b) in their relationship with their peers (you and I); c) in their relationships as part of a community or society (us, from an internal aspect); d) as a member of a community or society that has relations with other communities or societies (us, from an external aspect). To a similar extent, sovereign states can be seen: a) in their individuality (internal affairs); b) in their relationships with their peers (bi- or multilateral agreements); c) in their relationships as part of the international community (from within their boundaries); d) as members of the international community (not only related to other states but also to other international agents).

Because a conflict of interest[2]  happens when more than one agent is involved, clearly when two or more sovereign states have claims over the same territory, there is a territorial dispute.[3] Yet, the claim may have its origin in, for example, an individual, a community or sub-group within the state. Consider bordering minorities in Kashmir, Crimea and the role leaders’ prestige play, and “implanted” populations around the world and the “right-peopling” [4]  that follows.

Indeed, although states themselves seem to be the most salient agent in the relationship between sovereignty and cosmopolitanism, they are not alone. “State” [5] is a legal and political construction that defines and characterizes legal and political arrangements (not the society and individuals themselves and, for example, their factual characteristics and interests). In short, individuals form aggregations.[6] These aggregations have interrelations with others as enemies, neutral peers or allies. In time, they create their own authorities and law and become a legally organized society labelled in legal and political sciences “state.” It follows from this that to center the attention only on states when dealing with sovereignty and cosmopolitanism is to have an incomplete and non-comprehensive understanding of any global issue such as territorial disputes.

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Types of agents.

Author of:

Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).

Tuesday 20th April 2021

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World
https://drjorge.world


[1] For a discussion about the absoluteness or limitedness of sovereignty see Jorge E. Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020), chapter 3; Jorge E. Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group), chapter 2.

[2] For the notions of identity and conflict of interest the author follows Rawls: “there is an identity of interests since social cooperation makes possible a better life for all than any would have if each were to live solely by his own efforts. There is conflict of interests since persons are not indifferent as to how the greater benefits produced by their collaboration are distributed, for in order to pursue their ends they each prefer a larger to a lesser share.” SeeJohn Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Revised Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 4.

[3] For the author’s understanding of territorial dispute see Jorge E. Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020), chapter 4.

[4] Oded Haklai and Nephytos Loizides, “Settlers and Conflict Over Contested Territories,” in Oded Haklai and Neophytos Loizides, Settlers in Contested Lands. Territorial Disputes and Ethnic Conflicts (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2015), 1-16.

[5] Jorge E. Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty: International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020), chapter 2.

[6] See Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (Basic Books, 1974), in particular Part I, Chapter 2.

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