Kutafin University Law Review

(KULawR)

academic peer-reviewed law journal


In issue 2 on 2017 year

THE MANY FACES OF SOVEREIGNTY. INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL LEGAL THINKING

DOI: 10.17803/2313-5395.2017.2.8.282-291

Author: Martti Koskenniemi

Rubric: CRITICAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT IN INTERNATIONAL LAW

Annotation: This essay uses the theme of sovereignty in order to produce a little introduction to critical legal thinking. By focusing on the indeterminacy of an expression such as “sovereignty” it highlights the rhetorical and polemical aspects of law and the nature of legal competence as the ability to project to such expressions with a meaning as desired in the context of legal argument and contestation. One of the conclusions to be drawn from such a view is that what “sovereignty” or indeed “international law” means cannot be detached from the way lawyers use such expressions. There is therefore no a priori reason to commit to them or to reject them. It is true that they have, in the course of history, come to stand for reasonably stable ideas or expectations. But this does not mean that those connotations might not change. It is therefore important, that lawyers are not enchanted by such expressions but, instead, view critically the values and interests that their use actually supports.


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Keywords: Sovereignty, intervention, legal argument, critical theory, structural bias

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