The antecedents of 'sovereignty as responsibility'
Notions of 'sovereignty as responsibility' and 'the responsibility to protect' are often fra-med as radical departures from the 'traditional' conception of sovereignty. Many assume that sovereignty has, until recently, entailed only rights and not responsibilities. In con-trast, this article argues that sovereign authority has been understood to involve varied and evolving responsibilities since it was first articulated in the 16th and 17th centuries. It then traces the historical emergence of the tension between the right of sovereign states to be self-governing and free from outside interference and their responsibility to secure the safety of their populations. It cautions against a simplified story of 'traditional' sovereignty which reifies supposedly concrete and ahistorical rights of sovereigns while casting sovereign responsibilities as a morally abstract and late-arriving challenge.
European Journal of International Relations