Sovereignty Discourse and Practice – Past and Future

Joseph A. Camilleri, ‘Sovereignty Discourse and Practice – Past and Future’, in Trudy Jacobsen, Charles Sampford and Ramesh Thakur (eds), Re-envisioning Sovereignty: The End of Westphalia?, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 33-50.

The chapter considers the concept of sovereignty and the attempts made over time to modify the discourse. camilleri argues that these attempts are at their most illuminating for what they tell about the deficiencies of the existing sovereignty edifice.

The combinedweight of the elements of internationalisation of trade, production and finance, the homogenising architecture of technological change, the globalisation of insecurity, impact of ecological change and the growth of transnational social consciousness 
have created a context for change in legal and institutional development and the 
way in which authority is understood and exercised. For camilleri, the globalising 
processes of integration and fragmentation require a reinterpretation of the physical 
and social space. for this reason the paramount question to be addressed has to 
do with governance, not sovereignty. already, functions and powers overlap across 
boundaries, creating a loose but multi-tiered framework of governance. some, but 
far from all, of the principles that underpin this complex and rapidly evolving edifice 
can be found in the sovereignty concept. three key principles are suggested as 
offering useful guidance for the reinterpretation of social space and the emerging 
international order, namely autonomy, subsidiarity, and the related notions of 
legitimacy and accountability. all three principles need to be combined in a new 
synthesis that reconceptualises the relationship between governance, market and 
civil society