Theory of International Law

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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 take up each and every criticism. So instead I’ll review the chief criticisms and sketch my largely unrepentant reactions. On offer are the views that sovereignty is worse than I say; that it’s about as bad as I say, for the reasons I say; and that while what I say is true, sovereignty still has emancipatory or other important work to do—or that it would make no difference whether we retired it or not. Sovereignty, Professor Gathii reminds us, has done lots of nasty work that I merely touch on. (I have no interest in quibbling defensively about how much attention I give that nasty work.) It has played a nefarious role in imperialism and colonialism;…

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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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Does Anyone Buy the Classic Theory of Sovereignty?

Don Herzog obliterates the “classic theory of sovereignty” — the view that “every political community must have a locus of authority that is unlimited, undivided, and unaccountable to any higher authority.” And he does so in a thoroughly enjoyable way, with deep learning worn lightly and conveyed with enormous wit. Never has a serious book of political theory…

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