The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton

State Sovereignty and Stability: Conflicting and Converging Principles

  • Piyali BasuEmail author
Living reference work entry


International relations theory has traditionally sought to conceptualize state sovereignty as “supreme legitimate authority within a territory” (Philpott 1995, p. 357) and the international system as consisting of relations between functionally similar sovereign units (Waltz 2010). Although much criticized, the concept of sovereignty is still central to most thinking about international relations and particularly international law. The old Westphalian concept in the context of a nation-state’s monopoly rights to certain exercises of power with respect to its territory and citizens has been discredited in several ways, but it is still prized and harbored by those realists who wish to justifiably prevent foreign or international powers and authorities from interfering in the domestic decisions and activities of a state.

Historical Evolution of Sovereignty

Sovereignty has a theological foundation. Religious conflicts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries forced the...


Westphalian paradigm Globalization Human rights Failed states Quasi-states 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bienefeld, M. (1994). Capitalism and the nation state. In The socialist register (pp. 94–129). Accessed 9 Apr 2018.
  2. Brock, L., Holm, H.-H., Sorenson, G., & Stohl, M. (2012). Chapter 3. Fragile states and violent conflict. In Fragile states (pp. 46–96). Cambridge: Polity Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Cox, R. W. (1992). Global Perestroika. In R. Miliband & L. Panitch (Eds.), The socialist register. London: Merlin Press.Google Scholar
  4. Daher, A. (2005). Globalization and the challenges to state sovereignty and security. Accessed 9 Apr 2018.
  5. Del Lucchese, F. (2009). “Conflict, power and multitude” in Machiavelli and Spinoza: Tumult and Indignation. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Friedman, T. (2000). The Lexus and the olive tree. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  7. Gills, B. K. (Ed.). (2000). Globalization and the politics of resistance. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  8. Krasner, S. D. (2001). Abiding sovereignty. International Political Science Review, 22(3), 229–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. MacEwan, A. (1996). Globalization and stagnation (Vol. 23, No. 63–64, pp. 1–2). Accessed 9 Apr 2018.
  10. Newman, D. (1999). Boundaries, territory and post modernity. London: Frank Cass Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Ohmae, K. (1995). The end of the nation state: The rise of regional economies (p. 142). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. Philpott, D. (1995). Sovereignty: An introduction and brief history. Journal of International Affairs, 48(2), 357.Google Scholar
  13. Piven, F. F. (1995). Globalizing capitalism and the rise of identity politics. In L. Panitch (Ed.), The socialist register: Why not capitalism? (p. 104). London: The Merlin Press.Google Scholar
  14. Pocock, J. G. A. (1975). The Machiavellian moment: Florentine political thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Robertson, R. (2003). The three waves of globalization, a history of developing global consciousness. London, UK: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  16. Rotberg, R. (2002a). Failed states in a world of terror. Foreign Affairs, 81(1), 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rotberg, R. (2002b). The new nature of state failure. The Washington Quarterly, 25(3), 92–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rueschemeyer, D., & Evans, P. (1985). The state and economic transformation (p. 65). Cambridge University Press. Accessed 10 Apr 2018
  19. Sikkink, K. (1993). Human-rights, principled issue-networks, and sovereignty in Latin-America. International Organization, 47(3), 411–441. Accessed 10 Apr 2018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Skinner, Q. (1978). The foundations of modern political thought (Vol. I: The renaissance). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Sorenson, G. (2007). After the security dilemma: The challenges of insecurity in weak states and the dilemma of liberal values. Security Dialogue, 38(3), 358.Google Scholar
  22. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Political Philosophy. (2008). Spinoza’s political philosophy. Accessed 20 Apr 2018.
  23. Strange, S. (1996). The retreat of the state (p. 72). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. The Responsibility to Protect. (2001). Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, DecemberGoogle Scholar
  25. Viotti, P. R., & Kauppi, M. V. (1999). International relations theory: Realism, pluralism, globalism, and beyond. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  26. Waltz, K. N. (2010). Theory of international politics. Long Grove: Waveland Press.Google Scholar
  27. Wheeler, N. J. (2000). Saving strangers. New York: Oxford University Press. Accessed 9 Apr 2018.Google Scholar
  28. Zucca, L. (2015). A genealogy of state sovereignty, p. 405. Accessed 9 Apr 2018.

Further Reading

  1. Ashley, R. K. (1988). Untying the Sovereign State. Millennium, 17, 227–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ashley, R. K., & Walker, R. B. J. (1990). Reading dissidence/writing the discipline: Crisis and the question of sovereignty in international studies. International Studies Quarterly, 34, 367–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beeson, M. (2003). Sovereignty under Siege: Globalisation and the State in Southeast Asia. Third World Quarterly, 24(2), 367–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Camilleri, J., & Falk, J. (2002). The end of sovereignty? The politics of a shrinking and fragmenting world. Accessed 10 Apr 2018.
  5. Castells, M. (1997). The power of identity. Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Castles, S., & Davidson, A. (2000). Citizenship and migration: Globalization and the politics of belongings. Basingstoke: MacMillan Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan, Oxford World Classics Edition, Part Two, 1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Huntington, S. P. (2002). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. London: Free Press.Google Scholar
  9. Ikpe, E. (2007). Challenging the discourse on fragile states: Conflict, security & development. Conflict, Security and Development, 7(1), 85–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jackson, R. (1990). Quasi-states: Sovereignty, international relations and the third world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Kaldor, M. (2006). New and old wars. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  12. Krasner, S. (2009). Sovereignty: Organised hypocrisy. Chichester: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Newman, E. (2009). Failing states and international order: Constructing a post-Westphalian World. Contemporary Security Policy, 30(3), 421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. O’Brien, R., Goetz, A. M., Scholte, J. A., & Williams, M. (2000). Contesting global governance: Multilateral institutions and global social movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Thomson, J. E. (1990). State practices, international norms, and the decline of Mercenarism. International Studies Quarterly, 34(1), 23–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Weber, M. (1947). The theory of social and economic organisation (p. 34). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceWomen’s Christian CollegeKolkataIndia