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Date of Award


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

First Advisor

Roberto Alejandro

Second Advisor

M. J. Peterson

Third Advisor

Joan Cocks

Subject Categories

International Law | Political Science


This dissertation explores the relationship between state sovereignty and major instances of crimes against humanity committed in the latter 20 th century. In order to examine this dynamics of this relationship, the author analyzes the history and theory of the concept of sovereignty and examines five case studies of crimes against humanity: Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, Argentina during the military junta from 1976 to 1983, the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda in 1994, and the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. State sovereign power is shown to be an important facilitating factor in these atrocities as well as a major source of contention during the civil conflicts in which these crimes have taken place. International efforts to control or mitigate the damaging effects of state sovereignty, including humanitarian intervention, the International Criminal Court, and the promotion of democratization, are shown to be largely ineffectual and often end up strengthening state sovereignty.