The Future of U.S. Sovereignty in an Age of Global Challenges

Project Expert

Stewart M. Patrick
Stewart M. Patrick

James H. Binger Senior Fellow in Global Governance and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program

About the Project

Traditional ideas of sovereignty are being tested in revolutionary ways as the velocity and volume of cross-border flows accelerates, new transnational threats emerge, and nonstate actors leverage technology to exert unprecedented influence over international affairs. These have all resulted in new trends in international law. While state sovereignty remains the cornerstone of the international world order and a prerequisite for effective international cooperation, the nature of how states apply and exercise sovereignty is shifting. In my new book, The Sovereignty Wars: Reconciling America with the World, I argue that to advance its national interests in the twenty-first century, the United States must adopt a more pragmatic and flexible attitude toward national sovereignty. As global interdependence deepens, the only way to preserve national security and advance economic prosperity is through effective multilateral cooperation, including, at times, voluntarily delegating authority to international bodies. Doing so will enable the United States to continue to shape its destiny and promote international outcomes that are consistent with U.S. preferences.

This project is made possible through the support of the Robina Foundation.

  • U.S. Foreign Policy

    Stewart Patrick argues that the United States can protect its sovereignty while advancing American interests in a global age. He clarifies what is at stake in the sovereignty debate, arguing that the nation must make "sovereignty bargains" to achieve its aims in a complex world.
  • U.S. Foreign Policy

    While the United States has been the world’s greatest champion of international cooperation, it has often resisted rules it wishes to see binding for other countries. In The Sovereignty Wars, Stewart M. Patrick defines what is at stake in the U.S. sovereignty debate. To protect U.S. sovereignty while advancing American interests, he asserts that the nation must occasionally make “sovereignty bargains” by trading its freedom of independent action in exchange for greater influence through expanded international cooperation.
  • Development

    In Weak Links Stewart Patrick contends that assumptions about the threats posed by failing states--or "weak links"--are based on anecdotal arguments and challenges the conventional wisdom through systematic empirical analysis.