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By Ronnie Hjorth (auth.)

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Extra resources for Equality in International Society: A Reappraisal

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In order to understand the naturalist account of equality in international society, one has to reject both the contention that equality simply flows from sovereignty and the assumption that international society is a voluntary association of sovereign states and only that. An alternative way to look at this is perhaps to conceive of these things pretty much in the opposite way, viewing international society as in a sense prior to sovereignty and equality as a precondition for sovereignty. When doing that, sovereignty and equality are related in the sense that it is only among equals that sovereignty is possible.

But there are two further implications of this. One is that the rights of individuals should be obtained only in states – foreigners and citizens ‘may there obtain their rights’ – and that states are obliged to provide such rights to people within the territory in order to be recognised by other states. The second aspect has to do with the treatment of foreigners. It is one thing to treat citizens according to the laws, but quite another thing to give foreigners their rights ‘no less then private citizens’.

It is not argued that the path chosen is the only possible way ahead; but it is argued that it is desirable and at least preferable to sovereign equality. This implies living up to rules for theoretical inquiry as well as adding criteria for evaluating what is desirable. First, the concept of equality suggested should be possible at least in the minimal sense. That is, it should not be internally inconsistent and hence violate the laws of logic, or be based on false assumptions about essential properties of things.

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