Aubin Gasc
B21 Scholar
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Fall
2024
Adapting sovereignty to 21st Century realities
B21 Scholar
Fall
2024

Background

The 21st century 'modern' state system is composed both of an overarching structure of interaction (anarchism) and a pivotal unit (sovereign states). Sovereignty—key dimensions of which can be traced to mid-17th century Europe, notably a state's right to self-determination, and by the same token, the emergence of a norm of non-interference—is my core focus. It's commonly accepted that the idea of sovereignty has much transformed since its original conceptualization: it has become far more porous both in physical terms (the permeability of borders considering technological innovations and recent 'relevance' of pandemics; the 'wavering' role of territory and nationality with globalized exchanges and migration) and theoretical terms (prevalent non-state actors having determinant impacts of policy; the presence of inter-governmental organizations shaping domestic politics).

If the normative concept of sovereignty is adapting to our de facto contemporary realities, I will see that it also undergoes an intentional change in its conceptualization, one motivated by on-the-ground realities. Some areas of exploration of this project encompass, but are not limited to: the 'development' of a (universal) ontology on apolitical premises of a shared humanity; the premise that we live in a world shaped by conquest and deep grievances; how intervention along R2P premises could be incorporated in this discussion; what are the spaces within the international law system through which human rights can be effectively protected; the significance and  reconceptualization of sovereignty; the profound and inalienable role of individual agency in giving meaning to the institutions and large-scale structures we create; [more to come...]

Using the tools at my disposal (which have been extensively enlarged by my engaging with B21's community), I endeavour to use political theory, philosophy, psychology, history, and the many more (un)related fields to help me navigate this issue.

My dissatisfaction with the current impact of national and supra-national systems of organization on human lives is the driver to my attempt at partially redefining the way in which states interact with one another, which starts with a transformation of sovereignty itself.

If it sounds ambitious, it's because it is. But I'm hoping to get there at some point.

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