Islamic Sovereignty Norms and Peaceful Settlement of Territorial Disputes
iCourts Working Paper Series No. 47
38 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2016 Last revised: 12 Apr 2017
Date Written: March 8, 2016
The notion of state sovereignty is the foundation upon which the modern international system rests. Yet it is a mistake to regard sovereignty as a unitary, global concept: multiple sovereignties exist, particularly among Islamic law states (ILS). Sovereignty in the Islamic legal tradition takes the form of a divine trust bestowed upon the state and rests on personalistic, not territorial, relationships. Some modern ILS adhere to this Islamic notion of sovereignty, and we contend that such ILS find compromise difficult in territorial disputes because they attach divine sanctions to the authority of the state over territory. Using newly collected data from the constitutions of all ILS, 1945-2012, we demonstrate that this is, indeed, the case: ILS with constitutional provisions for Islamic sovereignty are less likely to resolve their territorial disputes peacefully or propose peaceful settlement than ILS that embrace secular, Western notions of territorial sovereignty.
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