Defining Down Sovereignty

  • Amitai Etzioni
Part of the Library of Public Policy and Public Administration book series (LPPP, volume 11)


In a globalizing world where transnational terrorism poses a serious threat to the security of many people, the Westphalian system of state sovereignty based on the sanctity of borders is increasingly obsolete. Today’s counterterrorism efforts have yielded to sovereignty rhetorically while routinely violating it in practice—this is unsustainable, and a new definition of sovereignty is called for. This chapter proposes building on the precedent of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) paradigm, which redefined sovereignty as a form of citizenship that entails responsibilities as well as rights, and asserts that the international community should recognize a further responsibility of states to curb any transnational terrorism that emanates from within their borders. The chapter concludes by stipulating that coercive regime change should not factor into upholding the rehashed sovereignty norm, but that a failure to prevent transnational terrorism could result in partial loss of sovereignty as nations respond to the threats against them.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Amitai Etzioni
    • 1
  1. 1.The George Washington UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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