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New Rights for Old? Cosmopolitan Citizenship and the Critique of State Sovereignty

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Abstract

Cosmopolitan international relations theorists envisage a process of expanding cosmopolitan democracy and global governance, in which for the first time there is the possibility of global issues being addressed on the basis of new forms of democracy, derived from the universal rights of global citizens. They suggest that, rather than focus attention on the territorially limited rights of the citizen at the level of the nation-state, more emphasis should be placed on extending democracy and human rights to the international sphere. This paper raises problems with extending the concept of rights beyond the bounds of the sovereign state, without a mechanism of making these new rights accountable to their subject. The emerging gap, between holders of cosmopolitan rights and those with duties, tends to create dependency rather than to empower. So while the new rights remain tenuous, there is a danger that the cosmopolitan framework can legitimise the abrogation of the existing rights of democracy and self-government preserved in the UN Charter framework.

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