Retaining the Mandate of Heaven: Sovereign Accountability in Ancient China

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Title Retaining the Mandate of Heaven: Sovereign Accountability in Ancient China
Author Glanville, Luke
Journal Name Millennium: Journal of International Studies
Year Published 2010
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Abstract Ideas of 'sovereignty as responsibility' and 'the responsibility to protect' have become increasingly accepted by the society of states in recent years. The origins of these ideas are appropriately traced to earlier European concepts of popular resistance and humanitarian intervention. However, Europe is not unique in possessing a heritage of sovereign accountability. Almost two thousand years before sovereignty emerged in early modern Europe, philosophers in Ancient China developed remarkably similar concepts about the responsibilities of legitimate rule. Confucian scholars, in particular Mencius, argued that rulers were established by Heaven for the benefit of the people. The people, in turn, could rightfully hold their rulers to account. They had the right to banish a bad ruler and even to kill a tyrant. Moreover, a benevolent ruler was justified in waging 'punitive war' against the tyrannical ruler of another state, in order to punish him and to comfort the people. Recognition of this non-European heritage of sovereign accountability opens up new possibilities for dialogue between those who would promote present-day concepts of 'sovereignty as responsibility' and those who perceive these concepts as merely Western and alien principles grounded in Western and alien values.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI
Volume 39
Issue Number 2
Page from 323
Page to 343
ISSN 0305-8298
Date Accessioned 2011-01-24
Language en_AU
Faculty Griffith Business School
Subject International Relations
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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