When US scholars speak of 'sovereignty', what do they mean?

Sinclair, Adriana and Byers, Michael (2007) When US scholars speak of 'sovereignty', what do they mean? Political Studies, 55 (2). 318–340. ISSN 1467-9248

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The term 'sovereignty' figures prominently in international affairs and academic analysis. But does 'sovereignty' mean the same thing in different countries and political cultures? In this article, we examine conceptions of sovereignty as they appear in the writings of US scholars of international law and those international relations scholars who deal with international law, in order to obtain a clearer picture of what 'sovereignty' means in American academic discourse. At first glance, the US literature is dominated by two distinct conceptions of sovereignty: (1) a statist conception that privileges the territorial integrity and political independence of governments regardless of their democratic or undemocratic character; (2) a popular conception that privileges the rights of peoples rather than governments, especially when widespread human rights violations are committed by a totalitarian regime. On closer examination, what seem to be two conceptions are in fact different manifestations of a single, uniquely American conception of sovereignty which elevates the United States above other countries and protects it against outside influences while concurrently maximising its ability to intervene overseas.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Political, Social and International Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2010 13:57
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2023 13:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/9727
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00665.x

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