Divided Sovereignty: International Institutions and the Limits of State Authority

JoanCocks_BookcoverJoan Cocks, Mount Holyoke College

Divided Sovereignty pivots on the following conundrum. On the one hand, the coercive capacities of states allow them to protect their citizens from harm by other citizens, while the sovereign integrity of states gives them the right to protect their citizens from harm by other states. On the other hand, states can redirect their coercive capacities against their citizens, either by actively attacking them or by passively refusing to protect them when they come under attack by other members of society. In such cases, the non-interference principle that governs international relations morphs from a benefit into a drawback, at least if one looks at politics from a moral point of view. Carmen Pavel’s solution to this conundrum is a division of sovereign power both between states and international institutions with the muscle to put a stop to egregious human rights abuses, and among international institutions of a variety of types, with the International Criminal Court in the lead.

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Perspectives on Politics / Volume 14 / Issue 01 / March 2016, pp 191-192
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