BOOK PREVIEW: “Cosmopolitanism, State Sovereignty and International Law and Politics: A Theory” [Forthcoming 2023]

Cosmopolitanism, State Sovereignty and International Law and Politics:
A Theory


Jorge E. Núñez

General structure: Part One

PART ONE refers to the current situation in the legal, political and international relations disciplines regarding the relationship between sovereignty and cosmopolitanism; wrong assumptions and pre-conceptions that cause bias in the relevant scientific analysis and its application; and a vision that proposes a reconceived paradigm.

Chapter 1 Introduction

The Introduction presents the overall aim of this work, its methodology and potential implications in dealing more efficiently with global issues such as territorial disputes; pandemics; arms, drug and human trafficking; terrorism; the flow of refugees; and war. It defines the meaning of sovereignty and cosmopolitanism and the reasons why they can (and should) operate together. It also introduces the notions of pluralism of pluralisms and multidimensional analysis. In short, the goal is to offer a common conceptual ground for discussion. There are many reasons for the origin and ongoing nature of pervasive negative local, regional and international issues: they are complex in nature (multi-faceted) and although addressed in several sciences, these sciences (and people at large and their representatives) do not follow a coherent and cohesive approach in assessing and potentially solving them. This chapter, therein, exposes the biases in the legal, political and international relations fields in regard to the relationship between sovereignty and cosmopolitanism.

The answer lies not in rejecting current concepts and creating new ones but in a change of perspective. By reimagining the perception about how cosmopolitanism and sovereignty can embrace and acknowledge pluralities, it is possible to shift from an exclusive to inclusive paradigm in the legal, political and international relations disciplines that can facilitate the cooperation of local, regional and international agents in finding mutually beneficial solutions to common problems.

Chapter 2 Sovereignty

State sovereignty has many meanings, however, all the definitions incorporate the element of a highest and absolute authority. Therein, any government or population retains sovereignty over a territory if and only if they have the exclusive capacity to enact and apply laws for those within their borders. A current understanding of state sovereignty accepts territory as a defining element─i.e. territorial sovereignty. What in principle appears to be a clear characterization of state sovereignty as the exclusive authority a government or population has over a territory, however, may offer different views. The chapter aims to show that one definition of sovereignty may refer to territory but can refer to other concepts such as population. Moreover, the chapter acknowledges that sovereignty is not absolute and because of its limitations, individuals, communities and states are able to interrelate in fact and in law with other agents in the form of domination or cooperation.

It is correct to argue that many voices do accept sovereignty’s limitedness; however, this statement is accurate only if disciplines like political science and international relations are considered. In the legal context, sovereignty is assumed to be absolute because a sovereign state can only have one ultimate and superior lawmaker and interpreter. In fact, the European Union is one example that illustrates the author’s point. Politically, there is room to argue that sovereignty is limited; however, the EU legal framework still accepts Member States, i.e. sovereign states in the monograph, as having exclusive sovereignty unless a given power has been conferred in law to the EU according to EU law principle of conferral, art. 5.2 TEU. The argument is that by acknowledging state sovereignty’s limitedness in law and politics, it is still possible to count on a set of legally binding and enforceable global principles.

Chapter 3 Cosmopolitanism

Similar to sovereignty, scholarly literature uses the word “cosmopolitanism”  loosely.[1] Claimed to have emerged in Ancient Greece when Diogenes labeled himself  “citizen of the world,” but according to the Stoics, without giving up identifying local roots, cosmopolitanism suggests identification with different groups (such as family, neighborhood, city, state, region and world).[2] Arguably, it is Kant who is the modern father of the concept, and his Perpetual Peace, scholars from different disciplines find epistemological, economic or commercial, legal, moral, ethico-theological, political and cultural cosmopolitanism.[3] This chapter distinguishes the different kinds of cosmopolitanism and argues that the focus should be on legal cosmopolitanism of a particular kind, more accurately, that to acknowledge and understand the distinction between moral and legal cosmopolitanism is not enough.

In addition to moral cosmopolitanism’s limited embrace of state sovereignty and, consequently, legal pluralism, a broad understanding of legal cosmopolitanism would also not suffice. Accordingly, it is important to distinguish between two different kinds of legal cosmopolitanism: natural law cosmopolitanism and positive law cosmopolitanism. This monograph explores legal positivism in further detail, i.e. how the world state is not a necessary consequence of positive law cosmopolitanism[4] and, therefore, other options are possible such as one that accepts a pluralism of pluralisms and embraces legal systems of different natures.

[1] Cali goes as far as to characterize cosmopolitanism as an umbrella of ideas. See Basak Cali, “On Legal Cosmopolitanism: Divergences in Political Theory and International Law,” Leiden Journal of International Law 19:4 (2006): 1149-1164, 1150.

[2] Martha C. Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” in Joshua Cohen, ed., For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996), 2-17; Thomas Kemple, “Mannheim’s Pendulum: Refiguring Legal Cosmopolitanism,” University of California Irvine Law Review 4:1 (2014): 273-296, 275.

[3] Georg Cavallar, “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosophy,” Ethics and Global Politics, 5:2 (2012): 95-118, 98.

[4] Contra Thomas Pogge, “Cosmopolitanism: A Path to Peace and Justice,” The Journal of East-West Thought 4:2 (2012): 9-32, 12.



General structure


BOOK PREVIEW: “Cosmopolitanism, State Sovereignty and International Law and Politics: A Theory” [General Structure: PART TWO].                   

Friday 17th March 2023

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World

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