Theory of International Law

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Beyond the State: Our Shared Duties to Cooperate to Realize Human Rights during the Evolving Risks of a Global Pandemic

I was not expecting my University to land in global news reports this week (see here, here, here, and here, among others), because of its decision yesterday to temporarily move to online instruction after seeing a surge in COVID-cases barely two weeks into reopening in-person classes. The University of Notre Dame has marshaled considerable resources to build a health and safety infrastructure with responsibility to all stakeholders of Notre Dame: students, faculty and staff, and our local communities here in the South Bend-Mishawaka region, but as with any policy attempt, the University community faces real challenges from individualist human behavior and different risk preferences. In many ways, the experiment to reopen the University of Notre Dame involved a series of local, community, and University decisions contingent on recorded risk levels over the summer, and data projections on how those levels could change given the unpredictabilities of human behavior. If anything was quite evident in recent days, it is that data science and modeling do have limits in predicting outcomes, especially,…

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Unrepentant: Sovereignty RIP

Warm thanks to the symposiasts and thanks again to EJIL: Talk! for opening its pages to an outsider to international law. It’s gratifying to garner some approval of what I did, far more gratifying to have people take it seriously. It would be boring, litigious, and anyway impossible in this space to…

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Burying Sovereignty All Over Again: A Brief Review of Don Herzog’s Sovereignty RIP

Don Herzog’s Sovereignty RIP is a great read and I highly recommend it. It is extremely well written and it has a compelling argument. It focuses on what it refers to as the classic theory of sovereignty under which "every political community must have a locus of authority that is unlimited, undivided and unaccountable to any higher…

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Sovereignty – an Empty Vessel?

Sovereignty RIP? In his book, Don Herzog urges us to “bury” the concept of sovereignty. Since sovereignty has mutated, over the centuries, from the idea of an “unlimited, undivided, and unaccountable locus of authority” (at xi) to a concept of which we now think as limited, divided, and accountable, it has basically turned meaningless and should therefore be…

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Of Babies and Bathwater: A Comment on Herzog

Sovereignty has been the target of so many indictments over the years that it is a hard task to renew the case against it in a way that is fresh and interesting. It is a tribute to Don Herzog that he manages to pull this off in such fine style. ‘Sovereignty RIP’ is incisively argued, impressively documented, widely…

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