Sovereignty: The Evolution of an Idea

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Sovereignty is at the very centre of the political and legal arrangements of the modern world. The idea originated in the controversies and wars, both religious and political, of 16th and 17th century Europe and since that time it has continued to spread and evolve. Today sovereignty is a global system of authority: it extends across all religions, civilizations, languages, cultures, ethnic and racial groupings, and other collectivities into which humanity is divided.

In this highly accessible book, Robert Jackson provides a concise and comprehensive introduction to the history and meaning of sovereignty. Drawing on a wide range of examples from the US Declaration of Independence to terrorist attacks of 9/11 he shows how sovereignty operates in our daily lives and analyses the issues raised by its universality and centrality in the organization of the world. The book covers core topics such as the discourse of sovereignty, the global expansion of sovereignty, the rise of popular sovereignty, and the relationship between sovereignty and human rights. It concludes by examining future challenges facing sovereignty in an era of globalization.

This interdisciplinary study will be of interest to a wide range of students, academics and general readers who seek to understand this fundamental concept of the modern world.
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About the author

Robert Jackson is Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Apr 26, 2013
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Pages
200
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ISBN
9780745654720
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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“Dazzling and instructive . . . [a] magisterial new book.” —Walter Isaacson, Time
 
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There has never been a true “world order,” Kissinger observes. For most of history, civilizations defined their own concepts of order. Each considered itself the center of the world and envisioned its distinct principles as universally relevant. China conceived of a global cultural hierarchy with the emperor at its pinnacle. In Europe, Rome imagined itself surrounded by barbarians; when Rome fragmented, European peoples refined a concept of an equilibrium of sovereign states and sought to export it across the world. Islam, in its early centuries, considered itself the world’s sole legitimate political unit, destined to expand indefinitely until the world was brought into harmony by religious principles. The United States was born of a conviction about the universal applicability of democracy—a conviction that has guided its policies ever since.

Now international affairs take place on a global basis, and these historical concepts of world order are meeting. Every region participates in questions of high policy in every other, often instantaneously. Yet there is no consensus among the major actors about the rules and limits guiding this process or its ultimate destination. The result is mounting tension.

Grounded in Kissinger’s deep study of history and his experience as national security advisor and secretary of state, World Order guides readers through crucial episodes in recent world history. Kissinger offers a unique glimpse into the inner deliberations of the Nixon administration’s negotiations with Hanoi over the end of the Vietnam War, as well as Ronald Reagan’s tense debates with Soviet Premier Gorbachev in Reykjavík. He offers compelling insights into the future of U.S.–China relations and the evolution of the European Union, and he examines lessons of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking readers from his analysis of nuclear negotiations with Iran through the West’s response to the Arab Spring and tensions with Russia over Ukraine, World Order anchors Kissinger’s historical analysis in the decisive events of our time.

Provocative and articulate, blending historical insight with geopolitical prognostication, World Order is a unique work that could come only from a lifelong policy maker and diplomat. Kissinger is also the author of On China. 
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