Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement

Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement

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The United Nations system's foundational principle of sovereign equality reflects persistent disagreement within its membership as to what constitutes a legitimate and just internal public order. While the boundaries of the system's pluralism have narrowed progressively in the course of the United Nations era, accommodation of diversity in modes of internal political organization remains a durable theme of the international order. This accommodation of diversity underlies the international system's commitment to preserve states' territorial integrity and political independence, often at the expense of other values. For those who impute to the international legal order an inherent purpose to establish a universal justice that transcends the boundaries of territorial communities, the legal prerogatives associated with state sovereignty appear as impediments to the global advance of legality. That view, however, neglects the danger of allowing powerful states to invoke universal principles to rationalize unilateral (and often self-serving) impositions upon weak states. Though frequently counterintuitive, limitations on cross-border exercises of power are supported by substantial moral and political considerations, and are properly overridden only in a limited range of cases. Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement accomplishes two tasks. One is to construct a unifying account of the manifestations of the principle of sovereign equality in international legal norms governing a range of subject areas, from foundational matters such as the recognition of states and governments to controversial questions such as legal authority for extraterritorial criminal prosecution and armed intervention. The other is to defend the principle as a morally sound response to persistent and profound disagreement within the international community as to the requirements of legitimate and just internal public order.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195342666
  • 9780195342666

Review quote

"This pioneering work in international legal theory offers a rare combination of sober lawyerly caution and high philosophical aspiration - leavened with plain common sense. Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement gives good reason for pause, especially to those of us who have made a mission of pushing the boundaries of international criminal and humanitarian law. Roth's is a novel, inspired defense of traditional rules upholding the sovereignty of states against recent demands from a putative 'international community.' It's a welcome antidote to new orthodoxies and sure to receive much attention, not least because it issues from someone long-identified with the international human rights movement." --Mark J. Osiel Aliber Family Chair in Law, The University of Iowa College of Law "In this tour de force, Brad R. Roth returns to the first principles of international order and produces a rigorous defense of sovereignty, applicable to 21st century debates. A brilliant piece of work that will be required reading for international lawyers." --Tom Ginsburg Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago Law School"In Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement, Brad R. Roth offers a unique and profound perspective on the place of the state in international law, politics and morality. His aim is to bring about a fundamental shift, to make clear that sovereignty is central to pluralism in the emerging global order. Not all will agree, but everyone's view will be richer afterward. The book is masterful, provocative, and important." --David D. Caron, President, American Society of International Law; C. William Maxeiner Distinguished Professor of Law, Berkeley Law, University of California "It is this clear-sighted interpretation of customary international law, combined with its firm theoretical grounding that makes Roth's work important. Professor Roth has given us a valuable tool to assess not only the current, but also future claims to modifications of these rules. Roth's work constitutes a convincing reminder that we must work towards an international legal order that will best serve the world that we have, rather than the world as we wish it was." --Hannah Woolaver, University of Capetown British Yearbook of International Law "This pioneering work in international legal theory offers a rare combination of sober lawyerly caution and high philosophical aspiration - leavened with plain common sense. Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement gives good reason for pause, especially to those of us who have made a mission of pushing the boundaries of international criminal and humanitarian law. Roth's is a novel, inspired defense of traditional rules upholding the sovereignty of states against recent demands from a putative 'international community.' It's a welcome antidote to new orthodoxies and sure to receive much attention, not least because it issues from someone long-identified with the international human rights movement." --Mark J. Osiel Aliber Family Chair in Law, The University of Iowa College of Law "In this tour de force, Brad R. Roth returns to the first principles of international order and produces a rigorous defense of sovereignty, applicable to 21st century debates. A brilliant piece of work that will be required reading for international lawyers." --Tom Ginsburg Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago Law School"In Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement, Brad R. Roth offers a unique and profound perspective on the place of the state in international law, politics and morality. His aim is to bring about a fundamental shift, to make clear that sovereignty is central to pluralism in the emerging global order. Not all will agree, but everyone's view will be richer afterward. The book is masterful, provocative, and important." --David D. Caron, President, American Society of International Law; C. William Maxeiner Distinguished Professor of Law, Berkeley Law, University of California "It is this clear-sighted interpretation of customary international law, combined with its firm theoretical grounding that makes Roth's work important. Professor Roth has given us a valuable tool to assess not only the current, but also future claims to modifications of these rules. Roth's work constitutes a convincing reminder that we must work towards an international legal order that will best serve the world that we have, rather than the world as we wish it was." --Hannah Woolaver, University of Capetown British Yearbook of International Lawshow more

About Brad Roth

Brad Roth holds a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and the Center for Legal Studies.at Wayne State University.show more

Table of contents

Overview of the Argument ; PART ONE: A NORMATIVE THEORY OF A PLURALIST INTERNATIONAL ORDER ; The Project of International Legal Order ; The Moral Significance of State Sovereignty ; Coming to Terms with Ruthlessness: Bounded Pluralism and Human Rights Violators ; PART TWO: SOVEREIGN EQUALITY IN CONTEMPORARY INTERNATIONAL LAW ; Principals and Agents: States, Governments, and the Self-Determination of Peoples ; Sovereignty, Consent, and the Interpretation of International Legal Obligations ; Sovereignty and the Relationship between International and Domestic Legal Authority ; Sovereignty, Human Rights, and the Non-Intervention Norm ; Conclusion: The Enduring Relevance of Sovereign Equalityshow more