Abiding Sovereignty

Over the several hundred years during which the rules of sovereignty including non-intervention and the exclusion of external authority have been widely understood, state control could never be taken for granted. States could never isolate themselves from the external environment. Globalization and intrusive international norms are old, not new, phenomena. Some aspects of the contemporary environment are uniquethe number of transnational nongovernmental organizations has grown dramatically, international organizations are more prominent; cyber crime could not exist without cyber space. These developments challenge state control. A loss of control can precipitate a crisis of authority, but even a crisis of authority is only a necessary but not a sufficient condition for developing new authority structures. New rules could emerge in an evolutionary way as a result of trial and error by rational but myopic actors. But these arrangements, for instance international policing, are likely to coexist with rather than to supplant conventional sovereign structures. Sovereigntys resilience is, if nothing else, a reflection of its tolerance for alternatives.