Sovereignty, Human Rights and Global Order
By Sam Adelman
Routledge – 2015 – 224 pages
Sovereignty, Human Rights and Global Order addresses the question of whether sovereignty is an instrument of, or an impediment to, cosmopolitan visions of global governance. Sovereignty is an object of desire and the stuff of nightmares. It is a symbol of self-determination and national identity and the biggest violator of human rights; the source of law and order, but also of unspeakable violence. Sovereignty is the biggest unsolved problem of modernity. And the central question addressed by this book is whether it is an inherently negative power that must be destroyed, or at least circumscribed, or an essential bulwark against the injustices of globalization, as well as global risks like economic crises and climate change. Why does sovereignty remain such a central organising principle of political life, at a time when it is supposedly being decentred and deterritorialised? Why is it the only form of power that 'legitimately' monopolises violence? And to what extent should sovereignty be the object of political struggle? Informed by Michel Foucault’s argument that sovereignty, the right to let live, was superseded by biopower, the capacity to let die, Sam Adelman offers a sustained examination of the contemporary phenomenon of sovereignty, arguing that it is only in overcoming the sovereign capacity to condone unnatural death that the possibility of an alternative, and human rights based, global order lies.
Chapter 1: The Unsolved Problem of Modernity Part 1: "Take Life or Let Live" Chapter 2: The Topology of Sovereignty Chapter 3: Sovereignty Lurking Chapter 4: The Unexceptional Exception Part 2: "Make Live or Let Die" Chapter 5: Alternative Paradigms of Good and Evil? – Human Rights and Sovereignty Chapter 6: Sovereignty Redeemed? The Power to ‘Make Live’ Chapter 7: The End of Sovereignty?