Sovereignty is heavily contested by existing states which view the survival of territorial sovereignty as vital to international order and many ethnic groups that see states as an obstacle to their own claims to sovereignty. This article looks at how and why ethnic claims to sovereignty arise. It examines when such claims may emerge, what forms such claims may take, the benefits ethnic groups perceive may accrue, and the implications for the international system and the emerging post-Westphalian international society. 'Sovereign, law, and prohibition formed a system of representation of power which was extended during the subsequent era by the theories of right: Political theory has never ceased to be obsessed with the person of the Sovereign. Such theories still continue today to busy themselves with the problem of sovereignty. What we need... is a political philosophy that isn't erected around the problem of sovereignty, nor therefore around the problems of law and prohibition. We need to cut off the king's head: In political theory that has still to be done.' The paradigm of sovereignty operates on the basis of a simple dichotomy: Sovereignty versus anarchy'.