WPS 2015-01: The Future of Sovereignty: The Nation State in the Global Governance Space

Eyal Benvenisti

Since its modern genesis, the claim to sovereignty has been inherently tied to the notion of freedom: from the Church, from empires, from colonial powers.  More specifically, the freedom that sovereignty promised was the freedom “to be left alone,” given the premise that unfettered sovereignty was a necessary and sufficient condition for the people and its members to enjoy the freedom “to do, or be, this rather than that.”  But in our era of global governance the freedom to be left alone no longer holds the promise of providing citizens with control over their lives because no Chinese walls will be capable of insulating communities from the outside. States that seek to ensure freedom to their citizens must act proactively by engaging foreign and international governance bodies, and by ensuring opportunities for their citizens to do the same. And in fact, states that participate in the robust exchange between global, regional and local policy makers retain their promise of ensuring to their citizens the opportunity to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” in an interdependent world. This contribution analyzes the costs and benefits that accrue to states from the emerging system of global governance and assesses the potential contributions of state organs to the effectiveness and democratization of the global processes of decision-making and review. It ends by outlining some normative implications of this type of “engaged sovereignty” which recognizes its embeddedness in a global order to which it is accountable.

Eyal Future of Sovereignty WPS 01-15