Sovereignty is the authority possessed by the governing
individual or institution of a society. Sovereign authority is distinct in that it is
unrestricted by legal regulation since the sovereign authority is itself the source of all
The idea of state sovereignty appears to have developed
first in Europe, in the late middle ages, where it emerged once a division was made
between the sacred authority of the church and the secular authority of the state. So long
as state power was subject to religious institutions - like the Catholic church - state
sovereignty could not emerge.
In Britain, state sovereignty is possessed by the Crown
in Parliament: law passed by Parliament and consented to by the Crown has unchallengeable
Our conceptions of sovereignty are narrow and
increasingly anachronistic. Scholars must consider deeply the purpose and role of
sovereignty in the contemporary world.
Sovereignty - An Institutional Perspective
In a world of nuclear weapons and economic interdependence, any adequate analysis of the
nature of sovereignty operationalized with regard to transborder controls and
extraterritoriality must be informed by an institutional perspective. - STEPHEN D.
KRASNER, Department of Political Science Stanford University
globalization and transnational social movements
Raimo Väyrynen, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of
Abstract: Traditionally, sovereign states have been defined, in terms of their external
and internal dimensions, as mutually exclusive territorial jurisdictions. Economic
globalization is associated with the liberalization of the world economy, decreases in
transaction costs, the development of communication technologies, and the emergence of
transnational social and cultural spaces. It is unrealistic to define state sovereignty as
a counterpose to the global system, as these phenomena have become mutually embedded.
States and their sovereignty are not disappearing on the contrary, they may be
gaining new tasks and resources but they cannot exercise their agentive power as
effectively as before. This means that the internal dimension of state sovereignty has
been transformed more thoroughly than the external one.
RETHINKING THE SOVEREIGNTY DEBATE IN
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW - Kal Raustiala, Acting Professor, UCLA Law
School and Institute of the Environment.
Many observers argue that sovereignty is threatened by the ongoing expansion of
international economic institutions. This article explores a school of thought that
counterintuitively argues that institutions such as the World Trade Organization in fact
strengthen sovereignty. These theories collectively highlight an under-explored
proposition: that changes in the international system or in domestic politics have already
compromised sovereignty and thus international institutions, while rendering the erosion
of sovereignty more legible, actually serve as a means to reassert or reclaim sovereignty.
These ideas are important for two reasons. First, they challenge prevailing wisdom and
thus offer an alternative guide for policy. Second, they suggest that our conceptions of
sovereignty are unduly narrow and may be increasingly anachronistic. In particular,
scholars must consider more deeply the purpose and role of sovereignty in the contemporary
Floating Sovereignty: A Pathology or
a Necessary Means of State Evolution?
Dora Kostakopoulou, School of Law, University of Manchester
The framing of the debate concerning sovereignty in terms of the dualism of retention or
rejection conceals the floating character of sovereignty and constrains the capacity of
the state to mutate, adapt and respond adequately to the diverse and complex processes
which range in, through and above it. The paper develops the idea of floating sovereignty
by putting forward four main propositions: (i) sovereignty's historical entanglement with
statehood makes it unsuitable for non-state political organisations; (ii) although the
state has been the necessary condition for sovereignty, the latter is no longer necessary
for the evolution of the state; (iii) the traditional ideological function performed by
sovereignty, namely the legitimation of state power, could be performed by other
organizing principles which prioritize governmental efficiency over territorial extent and
democratic criteria over nationalist ones; (iv) this means that the state will no longer
be in a position to command the loyalty of its citizens but it would have to purchase it
through its capacity to meet social needs, to fulfil its basic functions and through the
normative qualities of its institutions and policies. Three institutional designs in core
areas of high politics, that is, the fields of determination of nationality,
immigration policy and foreign and security policy show how floating sovereignty could be
Sovereignty re-examined: the courts,
parliament, and statutes
NW Barber, Brasenose College, Oxford
In this article the relationship between Parliament and courts is examined. The views of
writers on sovereignty are considered and criticized. Two criticisms of the sovereignty
theorists are made: first, that they wrongly assume that a legal system must attribute
supreme legal power to a single source and, second, that they wrongly assume that statutes
in the English system constitute absolute exclusionary reasons for decision.