Concluding Thoughts

Authored by: W. Andy Knight


Print publication date:  June  2012
Online publication date:  June  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415600750
eBook ISBN: 9780203117637
Adobe ISBN: 9781136304873


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Since the advent of the Peace of Westphalia (1648), sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs were considered fundamental elements of the state system. The Peace of Westphalia more or less ended the attempts to impose a supranational authority over European states. By the late nineteenth century the Westphalian system reached its apogee, exercising a stabilizing influence over international relations and the inter-state system. While some powerful states still tried to exercise influence over other (weaker) states, by and large, the principle that states should not interfere in the internal affairs of other states became an established norm of international relations – further embedded in the United Nations Charter under Article 2(7). Realist theory of international relations supported this principle of non-intervention as a fundamental aspect of state sovereignty. If a state was truly sovereign, according to realists, then it should have every right to control its borders and all therein (resources, institutions, people).

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