Appeared in: 107 American Journal of International Law 295 (2013)
The concept of sovereignty crystallized at a time when distances were large and self-sufficiency was the aspiration. Sovereignty coincided with notions of democracy, under the assumption of a perfect fit between the scope of sovereign authority and the affected stakeholders. This traditional view of sovereignty yields inefficient, inequitable and undemocratic consequences. This Article argues that in a densely populated and deeply integrated world, sovereignty should be conceptualized as a trusteeship not only toward a state’s own citizens, but also toward humanity at large. Continue reading
The obligation of states to take foreign interests seriously into account, if recognized, calls upon national regulators to assess the impact of their policies on foreign stakeholders and be accountable to them. This is where the disciplines of constitutional and administrative law, developed in response to domestic demand for accountability, come into play with their panoply of procedural norms and institutional mechanisms that structure public decision-making. Continue reading
The “public trust” doctrine or equivalent doctrines have been invoked in several national legal systems to assert community interests over natural resources such as navigable waters and the seashore, which must remain accessible for everybody. The idea of a “collective trusteeship” of states for the integrity of the global environment and common areas such as the oceans, atmosphere and outer space has also inspired scholars and activists who helped framing the evolution of international environmental law. Continue reading
Underlying the concept of the responsibility to protect (or R2P) is the recognition that “sovereignty implies responsibility.” This is understood to imply that a primary obligation of states is to protect their respective populations from serious human rights violations. When the state is unwilling or unable to protect its people, so goes the argument, it then becomes the responsibility of the international community to act in its place. It is then that the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect according to international law.