The careful distinction between property and sovereignty is a central part of legal thought from the early modern period onwards. But the reality shows that this division is socioeconomically not that clear. Property rights are rights against persons in relation to things, but effectively they can be rights over people in relation to resources and space—notional, conceptual, or real. Examples of this general trend are the international financial system and international intellectual property protection. If one looks at international commercial and banking law and the corresponding regulations, one realizes that the classical understanding of sovereignty in political philosophy and in public law needs to be broadened. In particular, the forms of exercising de facto sovereignty are no longer confined to specific nation states but can increasingly be found with multinational corporations, and the legal instruments are situated more in private and commercial law (scientifically justified by mainstream economics) than in traditional public law and public international law.



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