Equal Sovereignty: On the Conditions of Global Justice

27 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2017 Last revised: 21 Sep 2017

See all articles by Kjartan Mikalsen

Kjartan Mikalsen

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Date Written: September 19, 2017


This paper discusses the role of state sovereignty in a just global order. The point of departure is two competing conceptions of global political justice: justice as non-domination and justice as impartiality. The former conception advocates an intergovernmental order of equally sovereign states, whereas the latter advocates supranationalism and play down the principle of equal sovereignty in favor of basic human rights. The arguments underpinning the sovereignty ideal of justice as non-domination are relatively weak, which makes this position susceptible to powerful counterarguments from justice as impartiality. Since justice as impartiality has problematic features of its own, I here present a stronger case for the equal sovereignty of states, drawing on a strand of republican thinking that Philip Pettit has dubbed ‘Franco-German republicanism’. Specifically, I argue that instead of conceiving human rights and state sovereignty as core ideas of competing normative conceptions, we should see them as equally important aspects of the same conception. Respecting the sovereign rights of states is part and parcel of respecting the rights of individuals. Although equal sovereignty is not all there is to global justice, we cannot claim to promote justice globally without recognizing the equal sovereignty of states.

Keywords: Global justice, impartiality, non-domination, republicanism, sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Mikalsen, Kjartan, Equal Sovereignty: On the Conditions of Global Justice (September 19, 2017). GLOBUS Research Paper 3/2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3039395 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3039395

Kjartan Mikalsen (Contact Author)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) ( email )

Trondheim NO-7491, 7491

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics