Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Karen Vogel


Sovereignty is one of the oldest political concepts in the world. It is the concept that a state has full, independent authority over a geographic area, to put extremely simple. In this modern world, sovereignty has been forced to change. Globalization has changed the face of sovereignty, with companies, people, and ideas now interacting across borders at a pace never seen before. With emerging intergovernmental organizations, such as the European Union, the definition of sovereignty is in flux. The implementation of policies, in areas such as the environment, can be affected by issues of sovereignty. Thus the question stands: how does viewing environmental policy illustrate the ever-changing definition of sovereignty? Utilizing historical qualitative analysis of state documents and scholarly articles, the subject of this project revolves around an in-depth comparative case study analysis of Belgium and Bulgaria’s environmental policy to begin to theorize about the changing nature of sovereignty in the European context. Exploring the idea of “eco-sovereignty,” this project seeks to begin to fill a knowledge gap related to the changing nature of sovereignty and EU environmental policy.

Across the Member States, the European Union is intervening on behalf of the environment due to the post-modern definition of human rights. This definition now includes upholding the basic environmental rights as the ability to breathe clean air free of fine particles. The EU has justified its interference in Belgium and Bulgaria via the emerging norm of Responsibility to Protect, an idea based on the idea institutions have the right to intervene when violations of human rights are present.








Departmental Honors Project