Redefining Sovereignty: From Post-Cold War to Post-Westphalia
This chapter sketches the historical evolution of the concept of national sovereignty. It traces in particular the emergence of non-state actors in the international system as full members of a community for systemic management that had been previously open only to states and international organizations. The emergence of unconventional threats, such as terrorism, has required a substantial rethinking of the international agenda and of the security risks that threaten the national and international systems. There have been attempts to implement some universal principles relating to human rights standards. This chapter’s conclusion points to a need to re-think the nation-state and its functions. The Cold War witnessed the first attempts to surpass Westphalian constraints, in the context of nuclear weapons and certain human rights which came to the fore toward the end of the communist bloc. The processes of regional integration that sublimate the classical political order based on nation-states are also a modality to surpass these constraints. The post-Cold War security environment is characterized by fluidity and unpredictibility. The optimism associated with the end of the Cold War led to the vision of a moral and legal international order, with no military violence involved but states eventually resorted to armed force in various situations vaguely described as “self-defense”.