Bridget L. Coggins

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:

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States are the principal and most fundamental actors in world politics. Although supranational organizations and nonstate actors are growing in importance as a result of globalization, states have been the dominant form of political organization for the last two centuries. Because of the state’s centrality to modern political life, statehood is well studied, much sought after, and hotly contested. Political philosophers disagree about the rationale for the state and the nature of the international system. Political scientists debate the extent to which sovereignty influences political behavior and examine the dynamics of the beginning and end of statehood. In international law, the declaratory and constitutive nature of the state is debated both in theory and in practice. The major divide centers on the extent to which statehood depends on the intrinsic character of the actor or on its external legitimacy in the eyes of other states. Critical cases of claims to sovereignty show that, as a legal matter, statehood is not straightforward. Also, empirically statehood is not homogenous but varied; some present-day members of the international community scarcely resemble one another or, for that matter, the formal legal standards of statehood. Finally, faced with challenges to their sovereign statehood, governments have attempted a number of nonstate alternatives to accommodate diverse populations and other governance challenges.

Article.  8610 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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