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It is hard to imagine two groups with less in common than national security hawks and human rights activists. They represent different cultures with different views on the use of force, the role of rights, and the constraining power of international law. Yet despite their differences, the two groups seem to be converging on an understanding of state sovereignty as limited and subject to de facto waiver—an understanding that appears to legitimize military inter­ventions even in the absence of state consent and Security Council authorization.

This convergence is reached via different routes in each community: for the national security community, counter terrorism provides the sovereignty-limiting logic, while for the human rights and humanitarian law communities, it is the prevention of atrocities that leads to sovereignty-limiting doctrines.

In this essay, the author traces how this convergence has come about in two very different discourse communities, and points out some of the unintended consequences and unresolved problems that result.

Publication Citation

Geo. J. Int'l Aff., Summer/Fall 2012, at 125-133