Christian Reus-Smit (EUI)
Struggles for individual rights played a key role in the globalization of the present system of sovereign states. From its original kernel in sixteenth century Europe, the system expanded through five great waves; the most significant were those associated with the Westphalian settlement, the independence of the Americas, and post-1945 decolonization. In each case , empires suffered crises of legitimacy as new ideas about rights were mobilized to challenge established regimes of entitlements. When empires proved incapable of accommodating the new rights claims, subject peoples embraced the sovereign state as the institutional alternative. This history challenges not only conventional understandings of the relation between individual rights and sovereignty, but also opens up new possibilities for the normative justification of human rights. This seminar sets out the historical and theoretical argument in greater detail, and sketches, in a very preliminary fashion, its implications for normative theory. Overall, it offers an example of how empirical and normative enquiry can be brought into productive dialogue.
Sciences Po, Salle du Conseil, 13, rue de l’Université, 17.00-19.00
Discussant: Richard Beardsworth (AUP)