Matyas Bodig

Believes that Aristotle’s “self-sufficiency” remains with us in form of “self-determination”

  • something special about communities which can give rise to supreme power
  • there are always other communities that don’t have same claim to political representation i.e. right to self-determination
  • if do have political community then illegitimate to govern from outside, subjecting to foreign rule

> state legitimacy can be curtailed when

  • Subject to foreign rule
  • Govern tyrannically  i.e. not representational
  • Institutional failure – can only be exercised through consolidated state

e.g. in case of Libya: denied that Gadaffi’s government had a representational relationship with given people

> but never settled in international law what meant by “people” – this is left to political decision

1945 Charter was breakthrough which made this legitimacy claim central > “right to self-determination”

  • initially used to argue for decolonisation: why illegitimate for Britain to have colonies overseas
  • in process, becomes most fundamental right – which seen as prerequisite to exercising any other right (though this not entirely convincing)

“People” that find in UN documents is new subject in international law

  • understood as kind of political community i.e. representational
  • government recognised as such inasmuch as representative of peoples

e.g. UN preamble: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined…”

Priority in 1945 is peace and security but accompanied by idea that

  • if don’t have development, won’t get peace and security
  • crucially, that need representation of peoples to get development, peace and security

And later development of international human rights framework, which

  • came to define non-negotiable character of legitimate government (e.g. Henry Shue Basic Rights 1980)
  • was extended to include human-rights approach to development etc.

In fact economic and social rights much more important than originally thought, in terms of influence on government functions: e.g. though not legally required to run hospitals, necessarily, states do have to fulfil function of providing for health

  • many complained that too political in that carry ideology of welfare state or alternatively give too much power to judges
  • but in fact political in that determine functions of legitimate state e.g. no excuse to lack education or healthcare policies

> tend to make for isomorphism among states

  • one might expect self-determination to lead to greater variety among states (since each claiming to represent different “people”)
  • but in fact, tends to make governments similar to each other because HR law is setting out functions of legitimate state

With regard to agencies such as indigenous peoples

  • in principle, international law open to wide range of agencies, including indigenous peoples
  • in practice, isomorphising statism of international law has led to less and less representation of sub-national entitles

Nigel Dower

Good case that both global and international political community exist

  • Global: member are politically-engaged global citizens
  • International: community whose members are nation-states


Often argued that doesn’t exist because not like political community > don’t have formal rights (though could be argued that ICC and HR law) and no global authority

But ND argues there is global citizenship

  • there is global civil society > formally international law but substantive input from NGOs
  • globally-oriented citizens (Parekh) put pressure on our governments vis-a-vis global issues

Objections and ND’s counter-objections

Need to be values holding together political community but these don’t exist

  • global political community made up of those who those who observe certain parameters even if different agenda and values

Global civil society doesn’t really exist

  • true that not harmonious or uniform but still clearly does exist in form of international NGOs etc.
  • increasing number of actors act on cosmopolitan goals > ND describes as “solidarist pluralism” in book on Global Ethics

International political community

Seems clear that states members of international political community; each of which themselves are political units

UN is central to international political community – but is it essential? Before all states were part of UN, surely non-members were still part of some kind of political community

  • states observe norms though not forced to do so > goes back long way

Objections and ND’s counter-objections

Just system of states interacting in struggle for power – political realism (and Hobbes: no norms internationally because no enforcement)

  • ND: pace Hobbes, communities held together by fear should not be called political; however, states do not only interact out of fear


International political community should be informed by global political community > to make more explicitly cosmopolitan

e.g. strengthening of commitment to social and economic goals, which produces cosmopolitan turn


Sian Lazar

  • at point that make states responsible for economic and social rights, states are palming off to multinational companies – given that these are not members of UN, it is possible to hold them responsible?

> Matyas: true that no way of finding multinationals responsible on HR grounds – HR cases are always X vs. the State

    • companies instead operate on basis of “social license” but often very inadequate for making responsible
    • on other hand, making companies responsible would raise complex legal questions about relation to states where registered etc.

> Nigel: companies get away with things in countries where not same regulatory framework

Paul Tamuno for MB: what position on internal self-determination or local autonomy? self-determination of minority peoples?

> Matyas: indigenous and other groups in current statist system usually focused with choice of losing self-determination and being separatist

John Perry

  • cosmopolitanism often taken to imply weaker commitment to national-state; but what if my commitment to nation-state entail commitment to wider world?

> Nigel: “global citizenship” for him is translation of cosmopolites; obligations may sometimes modify loyalty to nation-states but need not do all the time

Andrea Oelsner

  • conflating international society and community? claim of “international community” implies Gemeinschaft rather than Gesellschaft

> Nigel: agrees distinction can be useful in terms of strength of bonds… but might want to favour “international community” to extent that moving toward cosmopolitan goals of socioeconomic progress etc.

  • transnational companies
    • could include within concept of transnational political community?
    • not to assume all bad – many signing up to Corporate Social Responsibility

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