Citizenship, Humanity, and Cosmopolitan Harm Conventions

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This article lays the foundations for a sociology of cosmopolitan harm conventions which protect the vulnerable everywhere from avoidable suffering and distress. It builds on the study of international society associated with the “English School” and seeks to develop its account of how states cooperate to reduce harm in their external relations. The English School argues that the principal harm conventions in international society are designed to maintain order between states. There is only limited agreement about how international order should act to prevent harm to individuals and non-sovereign associations. Several international legal conventions do outlaw harm which is justified in terms of the superiority of some cultures or races over others, and perhaps modern international society is making progress beyond earlier forms of world political organization by insisting that transnational, or cross-border, harm should be a central moral concern for the world political system as a whole. But to do so, it needs to transcend the forms of harm that particular groups inflict on others and the more diffuse types of harm which are caused by global capitalism and industrialization. A moral commitment to new forms of domestic and international political community which have this ambition lies at the heart of a sociology of cosmopolitan harm conventions with an emancipatory intent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-277
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2001


  • international relations
  • harm conventions
  • modernity
  • political organizations


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