Jose Alvarez's speech debunks idea that the nation-state is in decline

José Alvarez, Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, was a keynote speaker last month at the biennial conference of the American Society of International Law’s International Economic Law Interest Group. Held at the University of Minnesota Law School, the conference featured 50 speakers from academia, international organizations, private practice, and government.

In his address, “The Return of the State,” Alvarez took issue with the “many scholars...who have for over a decade told us that the state is 'withering away,' is 'waning,' is in 'decline,' 'retreat,' is already gone, or perhaps was always a 'myth.'” It may be, Alvarez said, that “some of them have confused their normative agenda with reality; some may have seen 'global governance' as a purely binary proposition. Whatever the reason, they are wrong. The state is not being dismantled; indeed even with respect to so-called 'failed states' the goal is to restore something that resembles a state because no one knows what to do with something that is not a state or part of one.”

Posted December 14, 2010

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