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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26221

Title: A Genealogy of Humanitarianism: Moral Obligation and Sovereignty in International Relations
Authors: Paras, Andrea
Advisor: Bernstein, Steven Franklin
Department: Political Science
Keywords: Humanitarianism
Moral obligation
Responsibility to Protect
Humanitarian intervention
Issue Date: 17-Feb-2011
Abstract: This dissertation examines the history of humanitarianism in international relations by tracing the relationship between moral obligation and sovereignty from the 16th century to the present. Its main argument is that moral obligations and sovereignty are mutually constitutive, in contrast to a widely held assumption in international relations scholarship that they are opposed to each other. The dissertation’s main theoretical contribution is to develop a framework, using a genealogical method of inquiry, for understanding the relationship between sovereignty and the shifting boundaries of moral obligation during the Westphalian period. This approach makes it possible to identify both elements of continuity and change in the history of humanitarianism and practices of sovereignty. The first chapter demonstrates how the extant literature on sovereignty and humanitarianism fails to adequately account for how states have participated in the construction of new moral boundaries even as they have sought to assert their own sovereignty. Chapter two lays out the dissertation’s theoretical framework, first by outlining an identity-based understanding of sovereignty in relationship to moral obligation, and then discussing the genealogical method that is used in three case studies. The following three chapters contain the dissertation’s empirical contributions, which are three historical cases that represent pivotal moments in the history of moral obligation and sovereignty. Chapter three examines the assistance offered by Elizabeth I to Huguenot refugees from 1558-1603, and relates England’s moral obligations towards Huguenots to the emergence of a sovereign English confessional state. Chapter four examines the relationship between British abolitionist arguments against slavery in the 19th century, and justifications for the extension of empire. Chapter five examines the emergence and evolution of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine since 2001, whose advocates posit a modified conception of sovereignty that is explicitly tied to moral obligation. The concluding chapter discusses how the dissertation accounts for both the rise of humanitarianism and the persistence of sovereignty in international relations, as well as provides some reflections on areas for future research.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26221
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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