Dialogical Sovereignty: Preliminary Metaphorical Musings
State Sovereignty: The Challenge of a Changing World - Proceedings of the Twenty-first Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law, (Ottawa: CCIL, 1993) pp. 267-293, 1992
28 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2010
Date Written: 1992
The present work is a text as appeared in 1992 as: Craig Scott, “Dialogical Sovereignty: Preliminary Metaphorical Musings”, in Canadian Council of International Law, ed., State Sovereignty: The Challenge of a Changing World – Proceedings of the Twenty-first Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law, 1992 (Ottawa: CCIL, 1993) 267-293. It is being uploaded to SSRN in order to make it more easily available because of the limited availability of the printed volume in which it was originally published. The piece is written in a deliberately fluid, even experimental style and format (with no section divisions) for reasons that may be appreciated upon reading it. One motivation for uploading it now (in 2010) is that its themes were not much addressed in similar terms by public international lawyers at the time (although they would have been recognizable to some constitutional theorists and some private international lawyers, as well as to most legal pluralists who might well have viewed the piece as approaching old ideas through a provocative intermingling of not-usually-intermingled discourses). Since 1992, familiarity with the kinds of claims and perspectives in this piece has become more commonplace, to the point that, by 2010, there now is a considerable amount of scholarship that has gone well beyond the metaphorical suggestiveness of this piece and has entered firmly into the analytical realm. As such, the piece may be of merely historical interest, but it may also still contain insights for ongoing debates relating to both theory and design of multi-level, transnational, global, or assorted other adjectival forms of governance, whether contemporary or future. While the piece’s focus is the concept of “sovereignty” writ large, within the conference’s theme of the relationship between statehood and sovereignty in public international law, it uses as a major point of reference the evolving discourse around the rights and jurisdictions of indigenous peoples. Early in the paper, its purpose and orientation is outlined as follows: [O]ur project needs to be one of rethinking, both imaginatively and pragmatically, how we as individuals, groups and societies live in a world where self-conscious pluralism is vociferously resisting (and sometimes seeking to transform) colonization by forces of standardization and normalization (even as new standards and norms are advanced in their stead). In other words, rather than seeking to suppress ‘fragmentation and chaos (negative characterization)’ we may want to ask whether we should be fostering and cultivating ‘heteronomy (good word).’ I approach these thoughts convinced that theorizing about domestic legal and political systems, and the pressures they face, and theorizing about international law and life cannot continue to be as isolated from each other as they have tended to be. We are all aware that there are social forces pushing toward increasing fluidity and complexity in the way in which both legal maps and maps of personal identity, within and between current states, are being drawn as we move into the twenty-first century. I will suggest, in particular, a more fluid relationship between the claims and discourses associated with the international human rights process and the claims and discourses associated with processes of state formation and dissolution, in part by focusing on the collective dimensions of rights. If statehood and human rights discourses are conjoined, they can, I would suggest, be approached as intersecting and overlapping sovereignty discourses, and, as such, offer potential insights into how we can break out of seeing ‘jurisdiction’ and ‘rights’ as two different and compartmentalized aspects of the constitutional ordering of societies and the world as a whole. Instead, we can imaginatively re-think the way in which we, as both individuals and collectivities, relate to one another. Moving into a more extended foreshadowing of the arguments, the paper claims in early passages: Together… two dimensions [variegated sovereignty and procedural sovereignty] might be said to produce an umbrella conception of sovereignty that emphasizes dialogical processes of collective and individual identity formation which dialogues, amongst societies-in-the-world and amongst individuals-&-groups-in-society, merge with the generation of normative standards that seek both to regulate and constitute communal life. Such a conception of dialogical sovereignty would be simultaneously applicable to both the ‘domestic’ realm (within the territorial state’s legal order) and the ‘international’ realm (outside the territorial state’s legal order), constantly querying this distinction even while constantly using it as a (contingently) necessary conceptual reference point.
Keywords: law, sovereignty, statehood, multi-level, governance, pluralism, international, transnational, personality, identity, rights, human, identity, jurisdiction, dialogue, dialogics, indigenous, aboriginal, peoples
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation