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The Meta-Power Paradigm

Impacts and Transformations of Agents, Institutions, and Social Systems-- Capitalism, State, and Democracy in a Global Context

Edited By Tom R. Burns and Peter M. Hall

This work presents, elaborates, and illustrates what is arguably the most important concept in the social sciences: power. It focuses particularly on a major class of power phenomena, meta-power, that is, power over power, transformative and structuring power. This encompasses powers to establish, reform, and transform social systems (institutions, power hierarchies, cultural formations, and socio-technical and infrastructural systems). Understanding meta-power is essential to the effective analysis of the formation of societal structures, their dynamics and evolution. This collection presents numerous illustrations and case studies at local, meso, and macro levels, showing how meta-powering is mobilized and operates in different contexts. The book should be of particular interest to business and management researchers, anthropologists, historians, legal scholars, political scientists, and, of course, sociologists.


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C H A P T E R 14: Hannes Peltonen: Behind the Scenes.The Security Council, the Right of Humanitarian Intervention, and Meta-Power


451 C H A P T E R 1 4 Behind the Scenes. The Security Council, the Right of Humanitarian Intervention, and Meta-Power1 Hannes Peltonen Introduction Despite the extensive discussions regarding humanitarian intervention—particularly during the 1990s—little attention was given to the kind of right the right of humani- tarian intervention was supposed to be. The debates focused often on whether a right of humanitarian intervention existed, if so who had the right, and when could it be legally or legitimately used.2 From such discussions one had the impression that a right was a right, and all that remained was to determine who had it and when it could be used. This, however, is a simplification of how rights function and what kinds of right exist. Here, I do not refer only to the distinction between something being right and having a right to something, but I draw from Hohfeld’s (1919/2010) typology of rights to distinguish between rights as claims, privileges, powers, and immunities. Later, I will also differentiate between rights as privileges and rights as liberties—something which Hohfeld forgo—to show how a small but crucial ques- tion remained unasked in the earlier debates: What kind of a right is the right of humanitarian intervention? My purpose is not to resuscitate these debates, and therefore I forgo a discussion of various positions taken with regard to humanitarian intervention.3 Rather, my goal is to clarify the operation of meta-powers as pertains to the Security Council and the right...

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