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SOVEREIGNTISM IN THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM: FROM CHANGE TO SPLIT

Delphine Alles, Bertrand Badie

Abstract


Abstract

This article analyses the contemporary re-emergence of various and complex political claims founded on sovereignty (“sovereigntism”). After discussing five historical stages in the evolution of sovereigntism, it highlights three structuring features of the post-bipolar international system namely, a growing discrepancy between the affirmation of sovereign equality as a norm and its flawed empirical reality, the perpetuation of an institutionalised hierarchy that no longer reflects the international distribution of power, and the disruption provoked by globalisation, which enables marginalised actors to voice their concerns while provoking resistances on the part of others who feel threatened in their status and identity. Three distinct conceptions of sovereigntism coexist as a result of these three structuring features: ‘neo-sovereigntism’ (claiming the implementation of sovereign equality and protesting the rigidity of the international architecture), conservative sovereigntism (seeking to preserve the international architecture by redefining sovereignty on normative grounds), and archeo-sovereigntism (radically opposing the transnational dynamics of globalisation and picturing them as a threat). The encounter of these three incompatible conceptions of sovereignty, it is argued, is a relevant variable for explaining contemporary disorders.

Keywords: Sovereignty; neo-sovereigntism; emerging Powers; globalisation; international system

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Bibliography: Alles, Delphine/Badie, Bertrand: Sovereigntism in the international system: From change to split, ERIS, 2-2016, pp. 5-19. https://doi.org/10.3224/eris.v3i2.02


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