The Changing Sovereignty. A Comparison Between the Brezhnev and Clinton Doctrines and the Way They Reflect the Change in the Use and Understanding of the Concept

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Title: The Changing Sovereignty. A Comparison Between the Brezhnev and Clinton Doctrines and the Way They Reflect the Change in the Use and Understanding of the Concept
Author: Rentola, Aino
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science
Date: 2001-01-12
Language: en
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: This thesis compares two great power foreign policies - the Brezhnev and the Clinton Doctrines. The goal is to see how these two doctrines reflect the change that has taken place during the last ten years in the use and understanding of one of the most important principles of interstate relations - the state sovereignty. The principle of sovereignty, each state's supreme control over what happens within its borders and the inviolability of those borders, has a long history, and it has always been a source of heated philosophical discussion. At the core of these arguments are the contradictions between it and other central, if somewhat newer, principles of international system. These are the rights of the citizens towards the state, especially human rights and the right of minorities to national self-determination. These contradictions form the core of the change that is under study here. The most important document of the international law, the UN Charter, came to encompass as central all three principles. The idea behind this study is that international law, nor sovereignty, cannot be approached as the unarguable truth, but that they are always open to interpretation. What matters more than the letter of the law is the prevailing interpretation, backed by the most forceful states or the public opinion of the majority of the international community, at any given time. The Brezhnev and the Clinton Doctrine are seen as examples of two dominant interpretations at two very different times. The Brezhnev Doctrine was formulated when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in the spring 1968. To defend their actions the Soviets advanced an interpretation of sovereignty according to which true sovereignty wasn't possible outside a Communist setting. They also seemed to think that the global communist commonwealth was in fact some kind of a sovereign entity. The Clinton Doctrine on the other hand refers to the US operations in Kosovo during 1999. It has to do with the relatively new idea of humanitarian interventions, according to it a state loses its right to sovereignty if it fails to protect or systematically violates the rights of its citizens. Both interpretations are clearly visible in the international declarations of the time. Although the Clinton Doctrine has some serious problems, especially like the lack and impossibility of universality and the dangers of state fragmentation, the changes in the international atmosphere that led to its adoption are real and here to stay. They include the end of the Cold War and the consequent change in the types of conflicts, the pressure put by globalization on state's traditional power, and the way media is changing the way foreign policy can be made and national interests are perceived. In addition, the two doctrines seemed to differ because of the political setting in which they were conducted. Although its democratic nature might have made the Clinton Doctrine more acceptable, it also made it less effective and less well established. The two doctrines also had a lot in common. The most important common characteristic was the strong use of ideology to justify seemingly illegal actions. They also share a great power way of thinking and the idea that sovereignty should be interpreted differently between different kinds of states. Accordingly many different theories on sovereignty have been used to aid in the comparison.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen ( Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database ( Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta ( Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.
Subject: Brezhnev, Leonid Ilich
Clinton, Bill
foreign policy
Soviet Union
United States

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