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Sovereignty and International Law: Hobbes and Grotius

Matrinus Nijhoff, ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF WANG TIEYA, R. St. J. Macdonald, ed., Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 391-400, 1993

10 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2008  

Mark Weston Janis

University of Connecticut School of Law

Abstract

The fundamental principles underlying sovereignty and international law are apparently antagonistic. The notion behind sovereignty is that a State should be able to govern itself; the notion behind international law is that external rules govern state behaviour. In the real world, neither sovereignty nor international law could be absolutely victorious without vanquishing the other. However, the lesson of history is that neither sovereignty nor international law ever completely bests its opponent. Rather, there is always a balance struck between sovereignty and international law, accommodation that makes up an essential aspect of the constitution of international politics at any given point in time. Now that the East-West confrontation that defined the Cold War chapter of history, 1945-1989, has given way, we might revisit the balance between sovereignty and international law. It is too early to say what the history books will come to use as a chapter heading to describe our post-1989 era, but both sovereignty and international law are strong contenders for increased importance in what is, without doubt, a new world order.

Keywords: international law, law, hobbes, grotius, sovereignty

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Janis, Mark Weston, Sovereignty and International Law: Hobbes and Grotius. Matrinus Nijhoff, ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF WANG TIEYA, R. St. J. Macdonald, ed., Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 391-400, 1993. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1114164

Mark Weston Janis (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

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