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Political Science History & Theory

Sovereign equality among states

The history of an idea

by (author) Robert Klein

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1974
History & Theory, General, General
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1974
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Uncritical adherence to the concept of sovereign equality is a major stumbling block to the reorganization of the world community. This study is the first place to trace the origins of the wording of the concept as it appears in the UN charter, as well as its historical antecedents and philosophical foundations. Two contradictory ways of viewing sovereign states and maintaining order among them are discussed. According to one, states are abstract entities with a fictitious personality; according to this view, international affairs must be based on the concept of great-power primacy. The opposite view, brought to world attention at the Hague Peace Conference of 1907, endows states with human personalities and transfers to them the political principle of individual equality. The book develops the tension between the real world of international politics and the abstract world where opposing concepts abide.

About the author

Robert A. Klein was an independent researcher in the field of international relations in the archives of the League of Nations at the UN Library in Geneva.

Robert Klein's profile page