It is commonly argued that the international system is currently in a state of upheaval, as state sovereignty is challenged by a variety of forces. Keene's book questions this assumption, arguing that sovereignty has never existed globally in any case, and suggesting that it has applied only to Western states. International relations elsewhere have been characterized by the norms of colonialism, rather than international law. The book examines the conduct of the British and Dutch empires, and how the traditions of colonialism have been challenged in the modern world.
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