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Is the sovereign state in decline in an age of globalisation?

The History and Theory of Sovereignty

A sovereign state principally denotes to a state, which has full sovereignty over its state of matters, survival and territory. A sovereign state is identified as serving as legitimate country by other significant states across the domain. The history of sovereignty can be assumed through two extensive movements that have been established in practical institutions as well as political thought. As per studies of Nunes (2001), the first movement refers to the extension of system of sovereign countries further closing at the Peace of Westphalia during the 1640s. Thus, sovereignty attained its standing in political understanding in the works of Machiavelli, Luther, Hobbes and Bodin. On the other hand, second effort is related to the restriction of the sovereign state, which initiated in preparation after World War II as well as has subsequently sustained through European incorporation as well as the growth as well as reinforcing commandments and practices of strengthening human rights (Lewis 2017). The most significant consistent radical thought transpires in the works of the challengers of sovereignty such as Bertrand de Jouvenel as well as Jacques Maritain. In contemporary times, the process of globalization unquestionably adds to the development and decrease of the possibility of state sovereign authorities (Koesrianti 2013). The range of threats to state sovereignty typically includes international monetary flows, multinational corporations in addition to the global media agencies. Major scale globalization initiated in the 1820s in the later part of the 19th century as well as early 20th century, whereby the connectivity of the financial system of the world as well as cultural patterns expanded rapidly. However, the term globalization is current simply founding its existing implication in the 1970s (Nunes 2001). The following essay will analyse the advantages and shortcomings of sovereign state besides the ‘age of globalization’ and the impact of the World Trade Organization (WTO) along with the United Nations Convention on the subject of the sovereignty of the state.

The concept of state sovereignty is the primary idea of contemporary global law whereby it is unimaginable irrespective of the international law itself. Moreover, new developments in consideration of the problem of state dominion tend to generate the essential fundamentals for consideration of the nature as well as attractiveness of contemporary international law along with the content of its basic ideologies. Sovereignty as per Johnson (2014) typically refers to a specific national region, the inviolability of the borders of the nations along with the authority of that country to protect its borders and guarantee internal stability. Starting from the Middle Ages until well into the Modern Period, nonetheless another idea of sovereignty held sway that is accountability for the providing welfare for all. Johnson (2014) in his book who has drawn insights from the interpretation of sovereignty as moral accountability adopted a shape in association with the idea of simply war. According to his studies, such an understanding with its precedence in classic just conflict have been significantly and typically non-existent from the primary routes of contemporary just war thinking. However, while drawing relevance to the insights of Johnson (2014), it has been noted that the understanding of the ethical priorities tends to fade away in just war thinking since the initiation of the modern period, since sovereignty concludes the idea of moral and has developed simply as a ‘de facto’ attribute of universally recognized states. Furthermore, it has been noted that a moral determinant to sovereign authority has been identified as a vital part of the whole conjecture of justified possibility to force exhibited in the just war practice.  In the view of Koesrianti (2013), since the seventeenth century, the permissible outline of the sovereign national has acted as the typical domain for political supremacy as well as financial exchange. According to Bergesen and Suter (2018), sovereignty agencies have been constitutionalized on state as well as global levels. Globalization has been changing the current international system. Studies have identified two major expansions at the charge of the commandment of the sovereign national. At the first juncture, specified governments of public universal law have upsurged into regions, which have been formerly controlled by the state like human constitutional rights, ecological legal framework and trade law. Globalization is understood as a rich and vague concept, thus is considered as one of the critical modern phenomena which seeks distinct explanation. However, it is principally undisputed to propose that globalization has exercised an enormous influence on the sovereign government (Xifaras 2016). Furthermore, the transnational expansion of capital with the development of overseas market encompasses the replacement of formerly fragmented national markets.

Globalisation and the Threats to Sovereign States

According to Pisani?Ferry (2019), sovereign states have been encountering increased challenges in providing regulatory as well as redistributive public goods besides determining and strengthening property constitutional rights in the sphere of considerably unrestricted trade, with rapid information-technology developments along with significant monetary deregulation. Studies claim that sovereign states after 1945 began to utilize reciprocated harmony to found institutions that unexpectedly, delimited the exercise of sovereignty (Davis, Dietrich and Scholdan 2017). Even though, public international law has the tendency to undergo as a normative parallel method of support, there have been seen convincing indicators by state-driven principles. Specifically, its dyadic approach of association has been experiencing a development of reinforcement in a triadic arrangement whereby external, non-state actors like IGOs along with arbitration panels and global courts serve more decisive role. State sovereignty has surpassed its conventional role, whereby it cannot disregard the issues associated to the extensive benefits of humanity, even within its individual borders. As per Niemeyer and Henry (2018), individuals and groups take benefit of substantial acknowledgement as topics of global law, which is witnessed in the increase of regulatory governments with enforceable machineries in the domains of global human rights law, global refugee commandment along with the transnational criminal law. The progress of worldwide criminal hearings has proposed an altering stability of committee authority as well as state sovereignty. On the other hand, Zolfaghari and Jafari (2015) have claimed that the major role of sovereign state law in the control of cross-border financial exchanges is progressively showing inconsistencies with the thriving local as well as international financial systems. The overseas market due to the controlling disintegration of the world market has established a universal set of rules aimed primarily for reducing the expenses.

Comprehensive studies of Telò (2018) have noted that the merchant law, which has been identified as one of the recognized representations of reserved international law, has begun since the Middle Ages. While, the traditional lex mercatoria had been identified as a European transnational custom, the modern transnational law is seen as a self-regulating and non-state legal order which has been modified in lieu of the resolution of transnational business disputes. Serving as the legal groundwork of global free enterprise, modern transnational law suggests a common language to several business entrepreneurs belonging to diverse ethnic backgrounds in order to manage consistent and reliable associations. For instance, in recent times, Multinational corporations have been applying standardized agreement forms and state of affairs which have been distinguished by the members of worldwide business rather controlled by bureaucrats of the sovereign state (Telò 2018).

The Changing Role of State Sovereignty in Contemporary Global Law

Considering the historical supremacy of Western influences since the beginning of contemporary sovereign state, the European-driven models of centralized governance have been in recent times considered as the ideal model of governmental organization. Such a model as per Doyle and Dunning (2018) is grounded on the Westphalian as well as Weberian concepts of sovereignty that further can be perceived as outwardly as well as internally oriented concepts of sovereignty encompasses global  recognition along with non-intervention as well as operational state or public associations (Adebajo 2016). The implication and underlying factors of sovereignty has gradually undergone changes and continues to advance. In the view of Doyle and Dunning (2018), Westphalian sovereignty has developed within the context of conflict which has been seen as a dire need of generating profits in order to invest warfare resulted in the centralized state formation in Europe. Considering these reasons, it is highly unsurprising that force along with colonial development have been used in order to enforce European models of nation besides dominion in parts where power had conventionally been considered in relation to the tribal or communitarian systems with ethno-religious allegiances or fealty to distinct influential. For example, as per reports of Doyle and Dunning (2018), in 1990 to 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait by confronting Westphalian standards about the inviolability of territorial boundaries as well as non-intervention. However, ironically it would be the sovereignty of Iraq which would be disarticulated by the obligation of ‘no fly’ regions in the north as well as the southern parts of Kuwait in order to safeguard the Kurdish as well as Arab Shi’a population. It has been from the reprisals from the central administration after the unsuccessful uprisings in 1991 along with a crippling agreement till the United States-driven incursion and following disassembling of the Iraqi state in 2003. As per studies, the attack of the 2003 has caused a range of significant procedures which encompassed the suspension of the Iraqi crowd, the de-Ba’athification of the administration besides the obligation of a sectional political organization grounded on proportions, mainly encompassed of legislators who have returned as expatriate devoid of any support among the Iraqi inhabitants (Doyle and Dunning 2018).

However, in the current global organization, which transitioned into a smallest state of the exception authorized by the Westphalian, model whereby the state could not assert a domination of conflict surrounded by its boundary and further renounce accountability for ferocity originating from that area. Furthermore, Bergesen and Suter (2018) have noted that the second World Civil War in global affairs and security studies has relied on the fact that for the paramount time in armed conflict. All agencies who have been involved in the conflict were identified as the sovereign states who have monopolized vehemence as well as authorized exclusively using their citizen army to engage in civil war. This fact resulted in the progress of the customary formation of security educations which has involved the sovereign state becoming the chief referent objective in global politics to be sheltered. Nations, which are at conflict, have now been shielding their sovereign territorial state based on the Westphalian model using only their citizenry army (Niemeyer and Henry 2018). On the other hand, the permission of non-state performers have been crucial since the conclusion period from the conclusion of the cold war, since the anti-social occurrences has prompted many regarding the optimal state of exception whereby the security and peace have been regarded as the exclusions and uncertainty (Nijman 2016). According to Nijman (2016), the world has been prompted that the idea of state dominion has been destabilized due to the RMA, which has been consequential to the state, which have stopped prioritizing having the supremacy or domination on the judgements of vehemence. Moreover, in the recent optimal state of exclusion, it has no longer the conventional idea of a sovereignty state, ground on Westphalia model, which includes its citizen-soldier, which protects the boundaries of the country state (Karl-Heinz 2017).

As per the view of Xifaras (2016), as 9/11 resulted, the world has been prompted that national dominion has been damaged and ignored as additional forms of non-state actors united with anti-social groups has been re-authorized as well as internationalized along with the standpoints as the primary basis of conflict used by state influential to bear conflict (Nijman 2016). The sovereign state by controlling supreme power regardless of any external interference has conventionally been the model of authority over any specific territory in the world. Nonetheless, regardless of national self-interest’s historical occurrence over any chance of utopian world governance in those distinctive cases when an overly influential State has turned an insatiable appetite for conquest, collective security systems have although been established to safeguard global peace and security to date. Since the 1970s, the class of ‘sovereign rights’ initiates randomly to be utilized primarily in global maritime law in order to determine the capabilities of coastal States related to the resources of the continental shelf along with the exclusive financial domain and from the end of the 1990s in order to fix the sovereign authorities over energy resources (Davis, Dietrich and Scholdan 2017). The capacity of sovereign rights in such domain is determined by the guidelines of law of the sea by distinct conventions, structures, national commandments as well as global arrangements. As per studies of Zhang (2016), the sovereign states are understood as a crucial and essential for its typical functioning. These rights are understood as the terms of State sovereignty further specifying its content. It has been noted that the sovereign rights are inherent to the State and have not been granted by any individual or can never be taken away or restricted in volume.

Although the primary entities of global law tend to remain sovereign States, their power has remained ultimo ratio. According to Niemeyer and Henry (2018), only a temporary limitation on the accurate implementation of the State’s sovereign rights tend to occur, but not only of the sovereign rights per se, but by the decision of the global community in the UN Security Council as per the provisions of the Charter in the article 39-51 in order to guarantee global peace and security. State authority has been arranged to take care of the benefits of its individuals acting as its source and formed by the State. Consequently, as per the general regulation government has no specific authority to seize agreements or adopt any vital step which are unconstructive to the State. However, as per Iosifidis (2016), exceptions to this rule are related to the cases employment services of the nation. On the other hand, when the sovereign government is obliged to stop compulsory agreement directly, a decision would permit the correlation of services or the global situation.

The problem of sovereignty is a widely subject as sovereignty tends to establish a counterpart of international law. In the view of Koesrianti (2013), for attaining sovereignty position, States constitute an increasing range of activities. Koesrianti (2013) has argued that the choice of capitalize on outdated state sovereign influence in the present world of correlated market as well as fast investment movement has been misdirected. Studies have disagreed that forces of market integration as well as financial globalization have surpassed the regulation of national government economic globalization, whereby state sovereignty has by now misplaced its implication in world policymaking. Nonetheless, since dominion has been identified as a crucial influence in the global associations, it is essential to offer a profound understanding of the idea of state dominion along with its consequences in recent times (Devetak, George and Percy 2017). Furthermore, it has been noted that states have lost their direct regulation over actions which pose impact or tend to occur within their authorized jurisdiction. Koesrianti (2013) has claimed that States will remain to serve as a main basis of sovereign authority in the region and as a primary subject of universal law.

On the other hand, the traditional understanding of nation sovereignty has shown incompetence in managing in recent times a rapid transformed economic world. The recent economic world has gradually shifted from the customary knowledge of nation sovereignty since it has been globalized as an outcome of the advanced technologies and conveyance along with the increased demand of Internet facilities. Nonetheless, in exchange for monetary welfares, states which involve into financial integration agreements must compromise a degree of their state sovereignties. Such actions have been witnessed in the situation of the EU, but no in the NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) or AFTA (The ASEAN Free Trade Area) or the ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) contexts as the member states have not deferred to their authorities over the local agencies (Zolfaghari and Jafari 2015).

Subnational, national and supranational influences

The doctrine of national sovereignty has been outdated. Moreover, the dimension of the sovereign rights currently have been redistributed, thus in the global community there has been reduced existence of single and inseparable government besides public as well as national sovereignty (Zhang 2016). Thus, through globalization sovereignty typically got disseminated between supranational, national, subnational also provincial and community divisions. Furthermore, advanced influential actors have developed and have led the State to act as major dominant and to offer this power to superior multinational or supranational developments and assemblies. However, it has been evident that since the conclusion of the Second World War has clearly revealed that nations progressively have substituted a part of their dominion to the world global establishments. Devetak, George and Percy (2017) have noted a superior part of dominion has permitted to regional suggestions besides the amalgamation of states in supra-state economic relations which has been turning to be gradually imperative part of globalization.

On the other hand, various studies have proved that Globalization produces a dual impact in regards to nationalism. Marsonet (2017) have noted that on one hand, a propensity of reducing national sovereignty has been witnessed, there can further be seen a profound rise of nationalism while smallest nationalities tend to strive for their individual sovereignty such as the unrecognized nation states.  However, it can be noted that separatism in the age of globalization may appear to be paradoxical whereby nationalism is acquiring power as the states have been destabilizing as systems. Conversely, there can be noticed no real contradiction particularly taken into consideration for furthermost states refuge which has been delivered by the domain public and the toughest states. At this juncture, it is vital to mention that voluntary decrease of sovereignty has been more characteristic of Western or greatly associated with the economically or culturally dominant nations (Roach 2017).

According to Iosifidis (2016), change of sovereignty in other nations besides countries with diverse ethnic traditions continues with additional effort and further has closely associated with the level of monetary expansion. These nations have been served as post-industrial, but have been industrial or agrarian-industrial whereby they belong to the type of states strongly associated with sovereignty in addition to the state regulations or fortification. By drawing relevance to these essential factors, the local influential states such as India, China, Brazil and Pakistan have shown low level of inclination of declining their sovereignty in comparison to the European nations. For example, considering level of classical Westphalian types of state sovereignty of China and India have shown great significance as compared to the current, obscured and inconsistent one (Zhang 2016).


Hence to conclude, the idea of state sovereignty or dominion is the main perception of current international law whereby it is unlikely, notwithstanding of the global law itself. Moreover, new expansions in deliberation of the delinquent of state dominion have a tendency to create the indispensable fundamentals for understanding the environment as well as attractiveness of contemporary global regulation along with the content of its rudimentary ideologies. Moreover, in exchange for regulatory welfares, states which encompass into economic incorporation agreements must negotiate a degree of their state dominions. Such movements have been observed in the situation of the EU, but not in the NAFTA or AFTA or the ASEAN contexts as the member states have not deferred to their authorities over the local agencies. through globalization sovereignty typically got disseminated between supranational, national, subnational also provincial and community divisions. Furthermore, advanced influential actors have developed and have led the State to act as major dominant and to offer this power to superior multinational or supranational developments and assemblies. However, it has been obvious that since the end of the Second World War has obviously exposed countries increasingly have replaced a share of their dominion to the world global formations. State power has been arranged to upkeep welfares of its people performing as its foundation and formed by the State. As a result, as per the general regulation government has no precise authority to get hold of arrangements or accept any vital step which are unhelpful to the State.


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