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The Sovereignty Paradox: The Norms and Politics of International Statebuilding
The Sovereignty Paradox: The Norms and Politics of International Statebuilding
By Dominik Zaum
Oxford University Press, 2007, 296 pp
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Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has been seized with the problem of state building. Indeed, it is commonplace today to observe that the world is threatened more by weak states than by powerful ones. From the Balkans to South Asia, the challenge has been not simply postconflict peacekeeping but also more ambitious efforts to build domestic institutions of law and governance. A growing array of international groups and organizations are now devoted to state building, and scholars are slowly developing a body of knowledge on its theory and practice. This book helps illuminate these efforts by looking at the ideas and norms that inform the activities of international agencies as they engage local actors. In case studies of Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor, Zaum is interested in tracking how evolving shared notions of sovereignty, self-governance, and legitimate political institutions shape what these agencies do. The book will be interesting to some readers as a study of how normative orientations -- often Western and unexamined -- set the terms for international action. But the more interesting issue raised by Zaum is about the international community itself: when it comes to international state-building efforts, the international community is neither truly international nor truly a community.