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Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law. On Legal Utopianism and Democratic Skepticism

52 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2014  

Seyla Benhabib

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This essay examines the contemporary controversy concerning democratic sovereignty in a new age and under conditions of nascent legal cosmopolitanism. I contrast the mainly negative conclusions drawn by some political theorists about the possibility of reconciling democratic sovereignty with a transnational legal order to the utopianism of contemporary legal scholarship that projects varieties of global constitutionalism with or without the state. I argue that transnational human rights norms strengthen rather than weaken democratic sovereignty, and name processes through which rights-norms are contextualized in polities „democratic iterations.‟ The challenge is to think beyond the binarisms of the cosmopolitan versus the civic republican; democratic versus the international and transnational; democratic sovereignty versus human rights law. The final sections of the paper focus on the dilemmas of an “authorship model of democratic legitimacy” in the face of post-Westphalian developments.

Suggested Citation

Benhabib, Seyla, Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law. On Legal Utopianism and Democratic Skepticism (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2455436

Seyla Benhabib (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

128 Prospect St.
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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