Although the Westphalian model takes many forms the association of Westphalian and sovereign equality is a prominent one. This article argues firstly that sovereign equality was not present as a normative principle at Westphalia. It argues further that while arguments for sovereign equality were present in the eighteenth century they did not rely on, or even suggest, a Westphalian provenance. It was, for good reasons, not until the late nineteenth century that the linkages of Westphalia and sovereign equality became commonplace, and even then sovereign equality and its linkage with Westphalia were disputed. It was not until after the Second World War, notably through the influential work of Leo Gross that the linkage of Westphalia and sovereign equality became not only widely accepted, but almost undisputed until quite recently. The article concludes by suggesting that not only did Gross bequeath a dubious historiography but that this historiography is an impediment to contemporary International Relations.
(Online publication May 12 2011)
Peter M. R. Stirk is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University. His recent publications include Twentieth-Century German Political Thought (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006) and The Politics of Military Occupation (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009).