Sovereignty: TRUTH OR MYTH? – Ilka Vanessa Walker-Vera

As years pass and states develop, the idea of sovereignty is a controversial issue to address. Many historians, like Arnold Toynbee and Richard Grove, have debated the importance of a state’s power over others and its impact to international affairs. In similar matters, Stephen Krasner, Professor of International Studies, and deputy director of FSI, published “Think Again: Sovereignty”, in which he explains the misconception of sovereign states and how international institutions have evolved. He answers critical questions concerning the well-being of sovereign states and their citizens around the world. In his work, Krasner acknowledges an evolution in sovereignty instead of a decline in the system. As well, he points out how powerful states work together in order to maintain an international stability for the benefit of its people. 

In “Think Again: Sovereignty”, Krasner emphasizes the definition of a state’s sovereignty and how it is often overlooked and mistaken by media and public opinion. Sovereignty, which is  having exclusive control in a given territory is often endangered by outside forces in situations involving a foreign citizens. States have, both legal and moral, obligations towards their citizens. This responsibility, in the past, has initiate actions and events outside of the country’s borders to bring safety and peace to its citizens. However, in many situations, it has been the root cause of wars and altercations between states. This is one of the counterarguments he wrote on his article since it shows how sovereignty is changing; however, it is not declining. I believe he is right because the United Nations Human Rights division is one of the many institutions that “oversee the power and boundaries by promoting equal and universal participation rights”. States have to pursue its citizens constitutional rights regardless of a person’s location. Krasner also emphasized the importance of universal human rights. He believes that sovereignty is not in danger because of an institution’s interest in defending the rights of men and women around the globe (including people from all backgrounds, cultures, etc. – humans as a whole). An important event took place in the capital of South Ossetia, Georgia, where Russian troops were sent to defend their citizens from genocide. According to the definition of sovereignty, outside forces have no power within the borders of the country; however, as previously mentioned, their citizens are entitled to certain rights since they proved loyalty one and only state. By allowing outside forces to enter transnational borders in situations that threaten human rights, Krasner believes that sovereignty is not in decline, however, it is changing in order to adapt to a more equalized distribution of power. I agree because, as Hobbes argued, sovereignty invites tyranny; but with an equalized division of power and order, there is no need to fear an overpowering state. Moreover, if this is the case, international institutions serve as the international order that manages justice around the globe the same way that a domestic order brings justice in the state’s borders. In other words, sovereignty is not declining, yet evolving to what it will be a just and equalized atmosphere of “autonomous and independent” countries.

Governing states are capable of organizing itself and respecting each other’s sovereignty. As well, these countries understand the repercussions of their actions if they violate the rights or endanger the welfare of foreign citizens. I agree with Krasner because the sole definition of sovereignty has not changed, but the world around it has and will continue to change. Moreover, it has evolved to a more collective view on how worldly affairs should be handled. Eventually, as years continue passing and states developing, the idea of sovereignty will not only be seeing as an individual goal, but it will be an international, ultimate goal for all states.


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