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Strategies for GoverningReinventing Public Administration for a Dangerous Century$
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Alasdair Roberts

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501714405

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501714405.001.0001

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States and Societies

States and Societies

(p.31) Chapter 3 States and Societies
Strategies for Governing

Alasdair Roberts

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines states and societies. As a matter of international law, every state is independent, or sovereign, within its territory. Broadly, this means that the leaders of a state are free to manage their internal affairs however they wish. This principle is not as clear-cut as it once was, because states are increasingly willing to intervene when other states abuse their citizens or pose a threat to international security. Still, the basic idea is that “all states are equal: each has the right not to be dictated to by the others.” Of course, law and practice are different things. There are many ways in which states can pressure each other to change behavior; and the authority of states is often challenged, sometimes violently, by the governed population. The chapter then considers the position of a state in relation to two forms of society. First, every state is a member of the global society of states, also referred to as the system of states. A second state–society relationship that must be recognized is the relationship between the state and the population living within the territory claimed by that state.

Keywords:   states, societies, international law, sovereignty, state leaders, international security, state authority, system of states, governed population

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