“Sovereignty” is a febrile word at the moment. It’s invoked by national communities of all sizes – whether large one trying to free themselves from old ties, or smaller ones wanting to independently engage with those same wider systems.

In our work here at A/UK, we tend not to use it as a descriptor for the kinds of local and civic power we want to support. It can easily be used to justify a kind of executive power, one that doesn’t always have a strong relationship to deliberation, consultation and participation.

But in many struggling parts of the world, long at the sharp end of systems beyond their control, sovereignty is the word that signifies a strong defence of the powers of a territory, in a global context that does recognise sovereign powers as legitimate.

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