Legal Theory



LAW OF STATES, LAW OF PEOPLES:

(Three Models of Sovereignty)


David Held a1
a1 London School of Economics

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There are those who believe that the rules governing the international political system are changing fundamentally; a new universal constitutional order is in the making, with profound implications for the constituent units, competencies, structure, and standing of the international legal order (cf. Cassese 1986, 1991; Weller 1997). On the other side, there are those who are profoundly skeptical of any such transformation; they hold that states remain the leading source of all international rules—the limiting factor that ensures that international relations are shaped, and remain anchored to, the politics of the sovereign state (cf. Smith 1987; Holsti 1988; Buzan, Little, and Jones 1993). “In all times,” as Hobbes put it, political powers are “in continual jealousies, and in the state and postures of Gladiators” (1968, 187–8). Despite new legal initiatives, such as the human rights regime, “power politics” remain the bedrock of international relations; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.