Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

The new sovereigntism and transnational law: Legal utopianism, democratic scepticism and statist realism

  • SEYLA BENHABIB (a1)
Abstract:
Abstract:

This article examines the contemporary debate about the spread of transnational law and its sovereigntist critiques. Sovereigntists argue that the rapid development of international and transnational treaties and the emergence of regional human rights courts such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) undermine sovereignty and thus pose a threat to democratic self-determination. I criticise the new sovereigntism and argue that transnational human rights strengthen rather than weaken democratic sovereignty, and name processes through which rights-norms are contextualised in polities ‘democratic iterations’. I develop the ‘authorship model of democratic legitimacy’ in order to show how constitutional rights and international human rights can be understood to be in harmony and dissonance with one another. The challenge is to think beyond the binarisms of the cosmopolitan versus the civic republican; democratic versus the international and transnational; democratic sovereignty versus human rights law. Distinguishing between state sovereignty and popular sovereignty enables us to do so. By constraining certain sovereign powers of the state, international human rights regimes and courts can enhance popular sovereignty in that they strengthen the rights of the marginalised and the excluded. The article also briefly touches upon the significance of the Alien Tort Statute in US courts from the standpoint of the development of international human rights norms and focuses on Hirst v the United Kingdom, recently adjudicated by the ECtHR, to substantiate the distinction between state and popular sovereignty.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The new sovereigntism and transnational law: Legal utopianism, democratic scepticism and statist realism
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The new sovereigntism and transnational law: Legal utopianism, democratic scepticism and statist realism
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The new sovereigntism and transnational law: Legal utopianism, democratic scepticism and statist realism
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Email: seyla.benhabib@yale.edu
References
Hide All
Étienne Balibar . 2014. Equaliberty, translated by James Ingram . Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Charles Beitz . 2009. The Idea of Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richard Bellamy . 2007. Political Constitutionalism. A Republican Defence of the Constitutionality of Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richard Bellamy . 2014. “The Democratic Legitimacy of International Human Rights Conventions: Political Constitutionalism and the European Convention on Human Rights.” European Journal of International Law 25(4):1019–42.

Seyla Benhabib . 2004. The Rights of Others. Aliens, Residents and Citizens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Seyla Benhabib . 2013a. “Moving beyond False Binarisms: On Samuel Moyn’s The Last Utopia.” In Qui Parle 22(2):8193.

Seyla Benhabib . 2014. “Defending a Cosmopolitanism without Illusions: Reply to My Critics.” Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17(6):697715.

Eyal Benvenisti . 1999. “Exit and Voice in the Age of Globalization.” Michigan Law Review 98(1):167213.

Allen Buchanan and Russell Powell . 2008. “Survey Article: Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of International Law: Are They Compatible?” Journal of Political Philosophy. 16(3):326–49.

Peng Cheah . 2006. Inhuman Conditions: On Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Jean L Cohen . 2012. Globalization and Sovereignty: Rethinking Legality, Legitimacy and Constitutionalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Drucilla Cornell . 2014. Law and Revolution in South Africa: uBuntu Dignity and the Struggle for Constitutional Transformation. New York, NY: Fordham University Press.

Alessandro Ferrara . 2014. The Democratic Horizon: Hyperpluralism and the Renewal of Political Liberalism. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

Stephen Gardbaum . 2008. “Human Rights as International Constitutional Rights.” European Journal of International Law 19(4):749–68.

Pablo Gilabert . 2011. “Humanist and Political Perspectives on Human Rights.” Political Theory 39(4):439–67.

Michael Goodhart and Stacy Bondanella Taninchev . 2011. “The New Sovereigntist Challenge for Global Governance: Democracy without Sovereignty.” 55(4) International Studies Quarterly 1047–86.

Amel Grami . 2014. “The Debate on Religion, Law and Gender in Post-Revolution Tunisia.” In Philosophy & Social Criticism. Special issue on Istanbul Seminars 40(4–5):391401.

Dieter Grimm . 2015. Sovereignty. The Origin and Future of a Political and Legal Concept, translated by Belinda Cooper . New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Nouzha Guessous . 2012 “Women’s Rights in Muslim Societies: Lessons from the Moroccan Experience.” In Philosophy & Social Criticism. Special issue on Istanbul Seminars 38(4–5):525–33.

Oona A Hathaway . 2002. “Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference?” Yale Law Journal 111(8):19352042.

Hent Kalmo , and Quentin Skinner , eds. 2010. Sovereignty in Fragments: The Past, Present and Future of a Contested Concept. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harold H Koh . 1991. “Transnational Public Law Litigation.” Yale Law Journal 100(8):2347–402.

Harold H Koh . 1997. “Why Do Nations Obey International Law?” Review. Yale Law Journal. 106(8):2599–659.

Harold H Koh . 2005. “International Law as Part of Our Law.” American Journal of International Law 98(1):4357.

Mattias Kumm . 2004. “Constitutional Rights as Principles: On the Structure and Domain of Constitutional Justice.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 2(3):574–96.

Cristina Lafont . 2015. “Human Rights, Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect.” Constellations 22(1):6878.

Amy Lerman , and Vesla Weaver . 2014. Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Saladin Meckled-Garcia . 2014. “What Comes First: Democracy or Human Rights?” In Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17(6):681–8.

Sally E Merry . 2006b. “Anthropology and International Law.” Annual Review of Anthropology 35:99116.

Frank Michelman . 1998. “Law’s Republic.” Yale Law Journal 97(8):14931537.

Thomas Nagel . 2005a. “The Problem of Global Justice.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 33(2):113–47.

Oren Perez . 2003. “Normative Creativity and Global Legal Pluralism: Reflections on the Democratic Critique of Transnational Law.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 10(2):2564.

Philip Pettit . 2006. “Democracy, National and International.” The Monist 89(2):301–24.

Judith Resnik . 2011. “Comparative (In)equalities: CEDAW, the Jurisdiction of Gender, and the Heterogeneity of Transnational Law Production.” International Journal of Constitutional Law 10(2):531–50.

Thomas Risse , Steven Rapp , and Kathryn Sikkink . 1999. The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beth Simmons . 2009a. “Civil Rights in International Law: Compliance with Aspects of the ‘International Bill of Rights’.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 16(2):437–81.

Beth Simmons . 2009b. Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ruti. G Teitel . 2011. Humanity’s Law. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Global Constitutionalism
  • ISSN: 2045-3817
  • EISSN: 2045-3825
  • URL: /core/journals/global-constitutionalism
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 97
Total number of PDF views: 444 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 480 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.