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Critical Theory in Critical TimesTransforming the Global Political and Economic Order$
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Penelope Deutscher and Cristina Lafont

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780231181518

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231181518.001.0001

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Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law

Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law

On Legal Utopianism and Democratic Skepticism

(p.21) 2 Democratic Sovereignty and Transnational Law
Critical Theory in Critical Times

Seyla Benhabib

Columbia University Press

Critics of legal cosmopolitanism and global constitutionalism have often pointed to an alleged zero-sum conflict between democratic sovereignty and a particular class of international legal norms: those pertaining to human rights. It is undeniable that there exist tensions between the application of, and compliance with, human rights norms in domestic contexts, on the one hand, and international treaties and covenants, on the other. Benhabib develops a conceptual and empirical model for understanding these tensions not as a zero-sum game, but rather as a process of dialectical norm-enhancement and interpretation. Her thesis is that compliance with international human rights norms does not come at the cost of, but rather reinforces, democratic sovereignty.

Keywords:   Legal cosmopolitanism, global constitutionalism, new sovereigntism, democratic sovereignty, human rights, democratic iterations

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