The present article offers a summary overview of the evolutions of the modern international legal setting focusing on its constituent legal pillars. Such pillars, based on the evolving concept of sovereignty and on the basic rules on recognition, are considered in their constituent nature, irrespective of their conformity, or not, with domestic constitutional models and of the recent discourse on constitutionalism. On the one hand, the analysis considers the evolving normative constraints on sovereignty placed by the law-making process carried out by sovereign nation-states in the pursuit of both their individual interests on the basis of reciprocity and of global solidarity through jus cogens rules. On the other hand, the limitations of this normative process are emphasized, so as to indicate the largely aspirational nature of the legal dynamics. The tensions between the equality attribution to sovereignty and recurring hegemonic attempts ‐ from the Napoleonic to the US neo-imperialist ones ‐ and their impact on international law are also looked at in a historical perspective with a view to acquiring the means to decipher the present and perspective dynamics of redistribution of power on the international scene. Finally, the article addresses the ongoing legal discourse on the paradigm of sovereignty expressing scepticism on alternative models as better tools for enhancing good international governance. It is suggested that the existing governmental model should be fully put to fruition through the full awareness of civil society and the enhancement of governmental accountability ‐ in international and domestic affairs, alike ‐ through the legal principle of due diligence.