A Political Theory of State Equality

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This paper advances a novel argument for why states are juridically equal. It embraces a fundamentally political understanding of legal statehood, whereby states provide essential ‘focuses’ and ‘forums’ through which politics can take place. On this basis, it contends that state equality cannot be properly grasped until it is acknowledged that states constitute ‘political communities’ and merit a certain degree of respect as such. It is this respect that grounds juridical equality. Political communities, in the relevant sense, need not be either democratically legitimate or particularly just. Ethically valuable politics typically operates as a response to injustice and illegitimacy. However, the normative core of state equality lies in the structural support that states provide for this distinct form of human activity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalTransnational Legal Theory
Early online date12 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s).


  • Statehood
  • Public International Law
  • Political Philosophy
  • Equality

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