JPIL Vol 5 Issue 1 2014 - Article 2


Richard Louis Lara

The concept of sovereignty is a recurring and controversial theme in international law, and it has a long history in western philosophy. The traditionally favored concept of sovereignty proves problematic in the context of international law. International law’s own claims to sovereignty, which are premised on traditional concept of sovereignty, undermine individual nations’ claims to sovereignty. These problems are attributable to deep-seated flaws in the traditional concept of sovereignty. A viable alternative concept of sovereignty can be derived from key concepts in Friedrich Nietzsche’s views on human reason and epistemology. The essay begins by considering the problem of sovereignty from the ancient philosophical perspective inherent in the fundamental assumptions and ideas of Plato’s political philosophy and epistemology. It then considers the contemporary problem of sovereignty in the context of international law by examining Louis Henkin’s formulation of and approach to it in his essay That S-Word: Sovereignty, and Globalization, and Human Rights, Etc. Finally, the essay articulates Nietzsche’s views on intellectual conscience, discusses their merits and advantages when used in dealing the problem of sovereignty in the context of international law, and proposes a solution to this problem that draws on the philosophies of Nietzsche, Novalis, Kant and Plato. The essay illustrates the relevance and advantages of this solution by examining the issue of states’ reservations to international treaties and conventions.

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