This book was written by Krasner in 1999. Stephen Krasner is a neorealist who believes in conflict prevention. One of Krasner’s most famous accomplishments in the realm of political science was defining “international regimes” as, “implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations,” in a special issue of the journal International Organisation in 1982. He has also written extensively about statehood and sovereignty.
Krasner defines 4 ways in which people refer to sovereignty in international relations:
1. Domestic sovereignty (actual control over a state by an authority within this state),
2. Interdependence Sovereignty (actual control of movement across state’s borders),
3. International Legal Sovereignty (formally recognising independent territories),
4. Westphalian Sovereignty (states may determine their own authority structures).
It has been frequently argued by scholars, especially in the late 1990s, that globalisation is gradually destroying respect for sovereignty, challenging the ability of states to exercise control over their territory, governance, and international affairs. In this relatively slim work, Krasner analyses the durability and performance of norms of sovereignty in the international system, and notes that challenges to state sovereignty are nothing new in world politics.
Rather, a broader historical view shows that even though the international community claims to be upholding sovereign rights, boundaries and responsibilities, states and international actors have long interfered in each others’ affairs and still often violate them in the name of upholding those norms. Krasner’s key point is therefore that international embrace of sovereignty is characterised by a pervasive organised hypocrisy. For instance, the principle of allowing Kosovo independence (splitting it from Serbia) is a rather hypocritical application of the sovereignty norm in a region where other substate independences have been deemed illegitimate (note: Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Krasner describes the 4 situations in which the international community deems the rules of sovereignty invalid, and subject to outside intervention:
1. Religious toleration,
2. Minority rights,
3. Human rights,
4. International stability.
I thought of the implementation of economic restructuring which often accompanies foreign aid. While it certainly is illuminating to examine cases in which sovereignty norms are violated in order to maintain them, it may be more important to examine those on the limits which clearly violate those norms while evidently aware of the consequences of that violation.
Read Krasner’s related post: Think Again: Sovereignty.