Similar to a board-game, sovereignty and cosmopolitanism include different agents acting (or omitting to act) in different ways. In that sense, “agents” may refer to different kinds of players depending on their individual behaviors as well as their interrelations with others and the environment.
Consider the cases of territorial disputes between at least two sovereign states over a third populated territory. There are at least four different players at skate: hosts, participants, attendees and viewers. The differences between these players have to do with whether they are admitted as part of the dispute, they are a necessary condition or not and if they can actually participate or not.
Three questions must be answered in order to characterize any player:
- Do all players have the opportunity to engage in the dispute? [admissibility, colorable claim]
- Even if they have the opportunity to engage in the dispute, can these players do it? [own’s ability and other player’s opposition]
- Are these players a necessary condition for the dispute to exist?
By answering the three previous questions, a first sketch of some of these different players results in the following characterization:
They are a necessary player. Without them there is no dispute. They are admitted as part in the dispute because they have a colorable claim. They can be part of the dispute.
They are not a necessary player. They may be part of the dispute but do not need to in order for the difference to exist. They do not have a colorable claim or their colorable claim is not accepted, rejected or ignored by at least one of the hosts but the hosts agreed for whatever reason to accept them. Therefore, their ability to participate is conditional upon acceptance by the hosts.
They are not a necessary player. They may be part of the dispute but do not need to in order for the difference to exist. They do not have a colorable claim or their colorable claim is not accepted, rejected or ignored by at least one of the hosts. Therefore, they cannot participate. However, they may have a degree of involvement in the difference.
They are not a necessary player. They are not part of the dispute. They do not have any colorable claim. Therefore, they do not have the ability to participate.
|Colorable claim||Necessary condition||Ability to participate|
The following post will explore some characteristics of the players in general. These characteristics are in relation to board games applicable to territorial disputes: rationality, strategies and information.
Players and their characteristics.
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).
Monday 10th May 2021
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez
 Vocabulary from game theory. For a brief understanding, refer to https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/game-theory/ For this series, agents involved in games are referred to as players. The idea is to observe sovereignty and cosmopolitanism as a board game. In that sense, the series uses territorial disputes as an example to demonstrate how relevant agents interact. There may be other ways to characterize agents in territorial disputes by way of using the board game illustration depending on factors others than the ones considered here. This is not an exhaustive list but only an illustration to demonstrate that agents operate in different ways in any territorial dispute, at least in theory.