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Sovereignty, Autonomy and Right

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents the idea of sovereignty in international law, and in particular national sovereignty as the organizing principle of the international system. It examines several challenges to the concept of sovereignty arising in particular in the period before the existence of the international human rights law order. The chapter looks at recent discussions of sovereignty emerging from international relations theory, as well as from international law theory. Following this, it examines two authors - Marie Benedicte Dembour and Jürgen Habermas - who have attempted meaningfully to probe in theoretical terms the evolution of national sovereignty as a matter of securing individual dignity on the one hand, as well as in the context of international normative human rights commitments on the other. Finally, the chapter returns to questions of the ability of the pariah to seek and receive justice for human rights harms to reclaim personal autonomy.

Keywords: autonomy; international human rights law; international law theory; international relations theory; Jürgen Habermas; Marie Benedicte Dembour; pariah; sovereignty



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