Law and Ethics of Human Rights 2 (1):1-32 (2008)

Seyla Benhabib
Yale University
In this article I examine recent debates concerning the emergence of cosmopolitan norms that protect individuals’ rights regardless of their citizenship status, and the spread of what some have called “global law without a state.” I distinguish between the spread of human rights norms and the emergence of deterritorialized legal regimes, by focusing on the relationship between global capitalism and legal developments arguing that “cosmopolitan norms” can enhance popular sovereignty while other forms of global law do not do so. The latter “fragment the public sphere” and create “privatized” norms of justification. I suggest that Israel inhabits three spatio-temporal modalities of sovereignty simultaneously, and this accounts for the enormously complex and existential nature of the dilemmas it faces: First, Israel is in a pre-Westphalian zone; second, for the Jewish population within its borders and for its one and a half million Arab citizens, Israel is a Westphalian state, which in fact exhibits strong features of a liberal, social democracy; and third, Israel is part of the global techno-economic complex. Within the three distinct spatio-temporal zones of sovereignty inhabited by contemporary Israel, one can detect new reconfigurations of sovereignty and citizenship that have not been exhausted
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DOI 10.2202/1938-2545.1014
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