Quasi-Sovereignty and the Making of Minorities

Thursday, March 30, 2023 - 13:00 to 15:00
School of Education, Room SE236

Quasi-Sovereignty and the Making of Minorities
The foundational principles of international law are sovereign equality – all states and their citizens stand equally before the law and must be treated equally under that system of law and sovereign authority - all states possess legal authority over their own affairs. The principle of sovereign non-interference remains the cornerstone of international law and is protected in Article 2(1) of the United Nations Charter, which stresses that “[t]he Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members”. In contemporary international law, sovereignty is “the political and legal basis of the international personality of the state. It belongs to all states, regardless of size, power, stage of development (…). The most important feature of state power is the sovereignty, which requires supremacy internally and independence externally.” However, this seminar will challenge these claims of equality, non-interference, and political authority in the international legal system. An examination of the genealogy of sovereignty, uncovers the emergence of a two-tier system of sovereignty from the non-European world – full sovereignty and quasi-sovereignty. Quasi-sovereignty, i.e. a lack of full sovereign rights over a state’s economic, political and cultural affairs, provides a very useful paradigm through which to examine the ways in which mechanisms of inequality and exclusion persist and endure in the international legal system, creating minorities, not necessarily in numerical terms, but as groups who are denied sovereign and political equilibrium, set apart from the dominant power structures. The themes of the seminar will be engaged with through an examination of violated sovereignty in the Middle East.

Speaker: Dr. Jean Molloy

Dr. Jean Molloy has master's degree in both Criminology and International Law. She obtained her PhD from Maynooth University on the topic of sovereignty, colonialism and terrorism, with a particular focus on Islamic State. Her research interests include genocide, torture, terrorism, and sovereignty.

Background to the Research Centre in International Justice:
Established in 2022, the Research Centre in International Justice is hosted by the School of Law and Criminology at Maynooth University. The work of the Centre focuses, in particular, on issues of equality, social inclusion and human rights protection at the international level, and provides insights into how the international legal order works and how it seeks to protect vulnerable groups, including minorities, migrants and peoples with disabilities.
Numerous members of the school’s staff have extensive teaching and research expertise in the sphere of international justice, which extends across a variety of areas, including international human rights law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, the rights of minorities and Indigenous peoples, disability law, migration and refugee law etc. Drawing on staff expertise in these areas, the school offers programmes in international justice and international law, i.e., the LLM in International Justice and the LLM in International Law (Blended Learning Offering) and several of the School’s PhD students undertake research in the sphere of international law and justice.