One major tradition of understanding the powers and duties of sovereigns has particular relevance to arguments for revival and refurbishment of the odious debt doctrine. Here, Purdy and Fielding survey the critical role of private-law concepts in the development of this tradition. In this account, the state is a constructed and purposive legal actor, composed of a set of powers assigned by its subjects for the pursuit of certain human interests and bound by the obligation to secure and respect those interests. Moreover, they narrate that if there are inherent powers in a sovereign, they are only those that are implied by its inherent duties.

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