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University of Baltimore Journal of International Law

Abstract

Twenty-six African States hold elections between 2016 and 2017. More basic than campaign rhetoric and ethnocentric political jockeying, the state in Africa is ripe for a deeper engagement with notions of state sovereignty that are more relevant for this century as the African state seeks to exercise its core functions, protect its interests within its own geographic boundaries, and care for all of the people it seeks to govern. The intentional structuring of such a dialogue must be guided to secure the cornerstones of individual liberty and participatory democracy – two basic protective functions that uniquely belong to the nation-state. The functional components for the design of such a new social contract will need to be very different from the intra-State ethnocentric dynamics that regrettably continue to dominate Africa. A continuum for sovereignty that is unique to the African nation-state context, not one that mirrors Westphalian notions or reflects remnants of a postcolonial era, will be outlined here. This continuum of sovereignty incorporates a framework of liberty designed to bridge definitions of the nation state from the last century with new roles of sovereignty demanded in this century. It is the framework of liberty that by necessity also includes the principles of human dignity and mutual benefit, anchors a new functional definition of sovereignty measured in terms of how a state cares for its people, and designs an enterprise of law from within a broader civil society comprised of economic traders.

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