Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim
To be effective, sovereignty must be secured through force or consent by those living in a territory, and accepted externally by other sovereign states. To be legitimate, the sovereignty claim must have the consent of its people and accord with international human rights.
In Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim, Peter H. Russell traces the origins of the sovereignty claim to Christian Europe and the attribution of sovereignty to God in the early Middle Ages. Transcending a narrow legal framework, he discusses sovereignty as a political activity including efforts to enshrine sovereignty within international law. Russell does not call for the end of sovereignty but makes readers aware of its limitations. While sovereignty can do good work for small and vulnerable peoples, it cannot be the basis of a global order capable of responding to the major existential threats that threaten our species and our planet.
A brisk, often humorous, and personal exploration, Sovereignty: The Biography of a Claim will interest specialists and general readers alike, offering fresh insights on the limitations of sovereignty and the potential of federalism to alleviate these limitations now and in the future.
- Series: UTP Insights
- World Rights
- Page Count: 192 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
Reviews“Much wisdom is distilled in this elegant book. An accessible primer on a key political concept, it also sheds much light on the continuing quest for self-rule by repressed and marginalized peoples around the world. At the same time, it provokes timely debate on the future structure of global governing institutions. A remarkable achievement reflecting an exemplary lifetime of seminal scholarship and practical experience.”
Louis W. Pauly, FRSC, J. Stefan Dupré Distinguished Professor of Political Economy, University of Toronto
“Peter Russell is surely right. If you care about Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples, then you need to understand the central importance of the term ‘sovereignty.’ This biography of the idea is a terrific place to start.”
Robert Vipond, professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
Peter H. Russell is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He has written extensively on issues related to the Canadian Constitution and Canadian politics in general.
Table of contents1. Introduction: Confronting the Claim to Sovereignty
2. Cannosa: Emperor and Pope Fight for It
3. Westphalia: The State Gets It
4. We the People Become Sovereign
5. Sovereignty as the Instrument of European Imperialism
6. Federalism Paves the Way for Removing Sovereignty’s Sting
7. Sovereignty Challenged Beyond and Within the State
8. Conclusion: Sharing Power Instead of Claiming Sovereignty
Subjects and Courses