Alternative to sovereign state

October 3, 2016
By Prof. Daniel D Bradlow

The following article is part of the SFG publication “Big Questions of Our time: The World Speaks”. To access the full publication please click here.


Question: Can we find an alternative to a sovereign state based international order in time to resolve the increasingly globalized problems that we face?

For almost 400 years a key organizing principle of our international order has been non-interference in other sovereign state’s domestic affairs. 

This principle is increasingly becoming an impediment to dealing with humanity’s most pressing problems, such as climate change, and the global economy’s impact on poverty and inequality, which require states to take an interest in the internal affairs of other states. 

Logic and efficiency suggest that this requires reconstructing the international order on a more flexible basis. However, historical and political attachments constrain our ability to do so. Thus, the “big question” is can we either adapt the principle of sovereignty or identify a new organizing principle that will allow us to construct new more effective global governance arrangements before these problems overwhelm us?

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