Does the State Still Matter? Sovereignty, Legitimacy and International Law
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This article explores the issue of sovereignty of States in the context of legitimacy of international law. Sovereign statehood is today increasingly challenged. The article examines if an essential incompatibility exists between international law conceived as a true, that is, legitimized, system of law and State sovereignty. To this end, it seems necessary to determine a meaning and importance of sovereignty in and for international law. The article seeks to argue that the idea of State sovereignty, deprived of orthodox positivistic justification, can still perform an important cognitive function in international law. In a world in which non-State actors suffer from a “democratic deficit”, democratic accountability and responsibility remains concentrated in States. States are, therefore, still the main source of legitimacy of political decisions. It is sovereign States that are the legal subjects assuring the public underpinnings within the international legal order. Consequently, there is no contradiction between the sovereign status of States in international society, and international law conceived as a legitimized legal order.
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