Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Roderic Camp

Reader 2

Jonathan Petropoulos

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Rights Information

© 2017 Anna E Shepard


I will argue that a discussion of sovereignty as it relates to internal conflict deepens our understanding of the Colombian conflict, and in turn, the Colombian conflict deepens the ongoing discussion on sovereignty. Internal armed conflict is a tool to free and dominate populations, to save and kill individuals, and to destroy and build institutions. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke set an initial framework for understanding sovereignty. Armed actors use violence to create a sphere of influence that overlaps with the state’s legal jurisdiction: armed actors use violence as a strategy of hegemonic state building. Overlapping territorial claims challenge the integrity of Colombian sovereignty. I will argue in this thesis that the Colombian example demonstrates that a government’s sovereignty can be threatened by an ideological competitor (FARC), outlaws -- whether state created (AUC) or independent of the state (drug cartels) -- and by foreign nations (US). If the collective actions of these actors can effectively contest the state’s legitimacy, comparative advantage in violence, and territorial claims, armed actors can effectively undermine the state’s sovereignty. In this way, the Colombian example is a rich case study in domestic sovereignty.