Beyond Norm-Takers or Norm-Breakers: India and China’s rhetorical engagement with the norm of sovereignty at the United Nations Security Council between 1971-1992, Kanishkh Kanodia, UG '23 (2270044)
Traditional accounts of Third World interaction with the norm of sovereignty presume that these states complied with the norm by assimilating into a Western-dominated order after decolonization, without theorizing about the complex interactions through which they chose to accept or reject the norm of sovereignty. I focus on two Third World countries – India and China – to study their engagement with sovereignty. I ask two questions: what were the differences in India and China’s engagement with the norm of sovereignty at the United Nations Security Council between 1971-1992? What factors can explain their different notions of sovereignty and territory? I show that there is a descriptive difference in terms of the words, rhetorical framing and rhetorical strategies India and China used to talk about sovereignty at the United Nations between 1971 and 1992. I argue that these differences can be explained by the distinct self-image—inherent and dynamic—these countries possess and project at the international stage. Through a case study analysis of their stance on the issues of decolonization of Namibia and peace-making in Cyprus, I illustrate the explanatory power of self-image as an independent variable in accounting for India and China’s dissimilar notions of sovereignty. The thesis makes contributions to the existing literature by chronicling how the unique histories and interests of non-Western actors shaped their foreign policy behavior, more specifically their rhetorical engagement with the idea of sovereignty, and by creating a methodological and analytical framework for studying other questions such as these in the future.