Who's In and Who's Out? On the International Juridical Protection of the Monopoly of Legitimate Violence and a Few Other Attributes of Cold Monsters (Who's in and Who's out? A Propos De La Protection Juridique Internationale Du Monopole De L’Exercice Légitime De La Force Et De Quelques Autres Attributs Des Monstres Froids)
24 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2011 Last revised: 16 Oct 2011
Date Written: April 20, 2011
This paper (in French) was first presented at a series of conferences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) on the topic 'What is international law for?' ('A quoi sert le droit international?). Its main argument is that we should not take international law too much at its word when it foregrounds certain goals (peace, justice, development, etc). Instead I propose that the main goal of international law historically has been to perpetuate a certain theory of the legitimate subjects of international relations, namely states. Everything in international law is secondary to that goal, and all else is merely a sophisticated deduction from this basic premise. The paper suggests that developments in recent decades have in some ways hardly made a dent in the centrality of the state, even as they ambition to restrain it and redefine sovereignty. A link between the historical sociology of the state and international law is made to show how international law is part of the construction of the legitimacy of the state's monopoly on violence. The paper suggests that talk of the subjecthood of non-state actors in international law is for the most part precocious given the upper-hand that the state still has formally on all matters international, and that the discourse in many ways merely serves to reinforce sovereignty. The article concludes by offering some thoughts on the difficulty of fundamental reform from within a normative system whose main goal is perpetuation of a certain order of power.
The final and only definitive version will be published in the Revue québécoise de droit international.
Note: Downloadable document is in French.
Keywords: state, international law, sovereignty, non-state actors, recognition, monopoly of legitimate violence
JEL Classification: N40, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation