The question of how to constrain states that commit severe abuses against their own citizens is as persistent as it is vexing. States are imperfect political forms that in theory possess both a monopoly on coercive power and final jurisdictional authority over their territory. These twin elements of sovereignty and authority can be used by state leaders and political representatives in ways that stray significantly from the interests of citizens. In the most extreme cases, when citizens become inconvenient obstacles in the pursuit of the self-serving ambitions of their leaders, state power turns against them. Genocide, torture, displacement, and rape are often the means of choice by which the inconvenient are made to suffer or vanish.

In Divided Sovereignty, Carmen Pavel explores new institutional solutions to this problem. She argues that coercive international institutions can stop these abuses and act as an insurance scheme against the possibility of states failing to fulfil their most basic sovereign responsibilities. She thus challenges the longstanding assumption that collective grants of authority from the citizens of a state should be made exclusively for institutions within the borders of that state. Despite worries that international institutions such as the International Criminal Court could undermine domestic democratic control, citizens can divide sovereign authority between state and international institutions consistent with their right of democratic self-governance. Pavel defends universal, principled limits on state authority based on jus cogens norms, a special category of norms in international law that prohibit violations of basic human rights. Against sceptics, she argues that many of the challenges of building an additional layer of institutions can be met if we pay attention to the conditions of institutional success, which require experimentation with different institutional forms, limitations on the scope of authority for coercive international institutions, and an appreciation of the limits of existing knowledge on institutional design.

The Institutions of International Justice, guest editor for Social Philosophy and Policy issue 32:1 (Fall 2015). (Contributors: Annie Stilz, Fernando Teson, Cara Nine, Simon Caney, Jennifer Rubenstein, Samantha Besson, Adam Martin, Massimo Renzo, Michael Barnett, Leif Wenar, James Pattison)

Oxford Handbook of Freedom, co-editor with David Schmidtz, (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016)

Articles and Chapters

"Boundaries, Subjections to Laws and Affected Interests," Oxford Handbook of Freedom, (Oxford University Press) forthcoming.

"Negative Duties, The WTO and the Harm Argument," Political Studies, 63:2, 2015. PDF

"Making a Faustian Bargain Work: What Special Interests Can Tell Us About Representation at the WTO," Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, 12:2014. PDF

"International Justice," The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, Michael T. Gibbons, ed.,(Wiley-Blackwell, 2014). PDF

"Alternative Agents for Humanitarian Intervention," Journal of Global Ethics, 6.3 (December 2010).PDF

"Normative Conflict in International Law," The San Diego Law Review, 46:4 (December 2009). PDF

"Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Moral Opportunity Costs," Polity, 41:4 (October 2009). PDF

"Pluralism and the Moral Grounds of Liberal Theory," Social Theory and Practice, 33:2 (April 2007). PDF