This essay is an exploration of the contemporary normative conditions of thinking about the problem of sovereignty. Specifically it is a consideration of some aspects of the way in which the problem of Third World sovereignty has been taken up and argued out in international relations theory and international law on the legal-political terrain of self-determination. The essay traces the transformation of the norm of self-determination as an anti-colonial standard to its post-Cold War re-composition as a norm of democratic governance.
Walker“Space/Time/Sovereignty”17. See also Jens Bartelson A Genealogy of Sovereignty (New York: Cambridge University Press 1995) for a similarly oriented critique of conventional histories of sovereignty.
See Francis FukuyamaAmerica at a Crossroads: Democracy Power and the Neoconservative Legacy (New Haven: Yale University Press2006). See also the 2006 open Democracy discussion “Francis Fukuyama: The End of History revisited” www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-fukuyama/issue.jsp prompted by the new (2006) afterword to that book. My own contribution to this discussion is entitled “Fukuyama’s Crossroads: the poetics of location” (2006) http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-fukuyama/crossroads_3532.jsp.
See Thomas CarothersAiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve (Washington D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace1999).; and the very able review of it by William P. Alford “Exporting ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’” Harvard Law Review 113 no. 7 (May 2000): 1677-1715.
See Evan LuardA History of the United Nations: The Age of Decolonization 1955-1965 (London: Pagrave Macmillan1989); and Mark Mazower No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2009).
Thomas Franck“The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance,”American Journal of International Law46 no. 1 (January 1992): 46. See also James Crawford Democracy in International Law: Inaugural Lecture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1994).
Susan MarksThe Riddle of all Constitutions: International Law Democracy and the Critique of Ideology (New York: Cambridge University Press2000) especially chapters 2 and 3. On “low intensity” democracy see Barry Gills Joel Rocamora and Richard Wilson eds. Low Intensity Democracy: Political Power in the New World Order (London: Pluto 1993).
See Quentin Skinner“The Empirical Theorists of Democracy and their Critics: A Plague on Both Their Houses,”Political Theory1 no. 3 (August 1973): 298-9. The end-of-ideology moment of course is that of Daniel Bell’s The End of Ideology (Glencoe: Free Press 1960) and Skinner is working through Robert Dahl’s A Preface to Democratic Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1956).
See AnghieImperialism Sovereignty and International Law261. Anghie’s larger point of course is to demonstrate that this construction of Third World sovereignty as fundamentally constrained and vulnerable is part of an old story. The doctrine of good governance as a doctrine about what Third World peoples lack and what it would be in their best interest to acquire or accept has a long history. And indeed Anghie goes on in this chapter to show in fascinating detail the historical link between international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF and the Mandate system of the League of Nations. “In strictly legal terms” Anghie writes “the Mandate System was succeeded by the Trusteeship System. But in terms of technologies of management it is the IFIs the [World] Bank and the IMF which are the contemporary successors of the Mandate System. Indeed whereas the Mandate System was confined in its application to a few territories the IFIs have in effect universalised the Mandate System to virtually all developing states and more recently to the transition states of Eastern Europe as al these states are in one respect or another subject to policies prescribed by these institutions.” Anghie Imperialism 263. It is important though to underline the sense in which the norm of good (or democratic) governance that has re-shaped self-determination is a novel dimension of the rationality of powers by which wider and wider areas of Third World life are brought under the purview of international law and subjected to its scrutiny and regulation.
See David P. Fidler“A Kinder, Gentler System of Capitulations? International Law, Structural Adjustment Policies, and the Standard of Liberal Global Civilization,”Texas International Law Journal35 no. 3 (Summer 2000): 387-413.